April 4, 2004
Today was our first day on the campus of Qufu Teacher’s University. I woke up to the sound of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” being randomly pumped through the sound system outside my window. The randomness reminded me of the plane ride into Jinan during which the out-of-place “Let it Snow” was played upon landing.
I went out walking with Emily (Liss) early in the morning. There’s grass here and I couldn’t resist the urge to walk through it barefoot; I got some strange looks from a couple of Chinese students, but then again, strange looks here are fairly common whether you’re barefoot or not! We all ate breakfast together in a building a couple minutes walk from our living quarters. We had what I presume was the Chinese version of an American breakfast; it was my least favorite breakfast we’ve had thus far, but I suppose there were others who loved it. It’s funny what kind of special foods we get because we’re American – I have eaten more French fries here than I ever have back home because there has seldom been a lunch or dinner here without them. After breakfast we went to the “mall” to buy water before rehearsal. This “mall” has two stories and about seven shops – one of them sells sweatshirts that say [random] things like “Various People” and “Impregnated.” I bought some water in one of the two grocery stores in the mall. When the woman tried to give me change I thought she wanted me to give more money. I stood there for about five minutes trying to understand the fast wave of Chinese coming out of her mouth which was, of course, pointless, considering my vast Chinese vocabulary consists only of phrases like “hello,” “thank you,” and “where is the bathroom?” In the end we figured it out and laughed; at least we could understand one part of each other’s language.
Rehearsal started at 9:00 am and lasted about three hours. We originally wanted to run through the entire show but we ended up just working out the kinks in the dance numbers. After rehearsal we ate lunch and had some free time before we got into the bus at 2:00 pm to go to a temple built in memory of Confucius as well as the Confucius family mansion. There was a group of men that followed us around throughout our tour and took pictures of us. They tended to choose tall blonde people to be the “American poster children” in their pictures.
Dinner was a banquet, and we all watched the head table and mimicked their first moves. After we ate we recited our poem and sang “Waters of Babylon” for our hosts. It was, of course, an amazing day!
Reporter, Annie Conley
[Qufu is all about Confucius. These entries will reflect that. –ed.]