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Detailed Itinerary



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JE 2008

China time and date:


Half Over, or Half to Go?

Congratulations to all you parents!

group 4-9

Speaking of half over . . . this is the toughest part of the journey right now. I’m sure you’ve all found yourself watching a really long movie (that seemed like it was taking forever) and wanted to just stop the film so you can get up, stretch, get something to drink, and refocus.

We are at that point where we need to splash our faces with some water, get organized and get refocused for the second half of this amazing journey through China.

The first part of the trip was rapid-fire with new places and people every day. The days were flying by. Now that we have settled down in Qufu, with the pace slowing some, it is easy to feel like each day is taking forever. Well, now we are going kick this journey up a notch!

Even though there are only a couple more days in Qufu doesn’t mean the activities are slowing. We have a bunch of photos for you today, along with a report from Audrey Jones.. The group photo at the top of the page is in front of Confucius’s Cave. This group “umbrella” photo is a journey first!

One of the funnest things the kids will do is learn Chinese calligraphy. This has always been a highlight of the journey.

First, the gang listened to a lecture on Chinese painting and calligraphy in the morning. Then they attempted to learn how to write Chinese.

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These pictures are worth a lot
of words!

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I wonder what it is they are writing? Can you tell? Do any of you students from previous journeys recognize any of these characters? No, not the students (haha), but the Chinese language characters. Looking good there, Mrs. Bailey and Mr. Tietz!

If you are curious about Chinese calligraphy, check out these fun links:

For fun, go to the Chinese version of Yahoo’s web page: Yahoo Chinese. Okay, enough rambling, let’s get on with the photos:

The JE gang visited Ni Shan, birthplace of Confucius. It is said that Confucius was born in the Fuzi Cave on this mountain. Confucius is his “westernized” name. Do you know the Chinese name for Confucius?

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Wandering through the village

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Looks like Jake is getting a bird’s eye view of the village (bottom row, right)! Now that you have seen the photos, let’s hear what Audrey has to say about the effect of the day’s activities. Go ahead Audrey . . .

Audrey Jones, Qufu, China 4/8/08

Another day gone by so fast, time fading away quickly like the ink on a calligraphy brush. Speaking of calligraphy, that was our first activity of the day, after breakfast, of course. We attended an invigorating lesson on the evolution of Chinese calligraphy and traditional Chinese painting. First, we learned the proper brush holding technique, then the ink was poured and we made pitiful attempts to mimic Professor Xu’s perfect characters. Believe me when I say that calligraphy is much harder than it looks. The xuan paper I was practicing on was covered in random squiggles and scattered ink blots, badly imitating the characters on the board. Apart from my feeling very frustrated, I thought the calligraphy was really interesting, especially when the instructor showed us how one character changed from one thing to a completely different thing over a stretch of time. 

I found the Chinese paintings even more amazing. We watched the teacher create a beautiful painting out of a blank piece of paper and some ink. When it way our turn to try, nothing compared to what the instructor had done. [The instructor has been teaching this for 20 years. -- Tom]

Anyway, after the calligraphy class we went back to the hotel for a little bit of free time before lunch. We had a little more free time after lunch when we packed our bags and umbrellas because it rained off and on all day. We boarded the bus and headed out to a village.

 I was shocked when we arrived. It was by far the most devastating thing that I have seen. Sure, I have read or heard about poverty but it never occurred to me that it’s actually happening to people. Nearly all of the houses were pretty run-down and things were falling off of them. Stone walls and gates were broken. One house that I saw had a thin blanket, pock-marked with holes pinned up as a blanket. I found that just walking through the village was depressing and I grew more and more depressed with each step I took or with every broken down thing I saw. Materially, compared to the villager’s lives, my life is perfect. I complain that my sister ate the last cookie; they are grateful for a filling meal. I’m upset because I am not allowed to buy the cool shirt I like; their clothes are filthy and tattered. Seeing how these villagers live will cause me to look more closely at how we live.

We left the village and got on the bus to go to Confucius’ birthplace at Ni Hill. I was expecting something incredible like Confucius’ tomb and was surprised when we got there and all that I saw was a cave. Chunlei told us a lot about Confucius as we stood outside of the cave. Confucius’ mother went to the cave to pray for a baby and ultimately gave birth, so the legend goes, in that cave. 

We went to the Confucius school on the hill above the cave. We didn’t have a tour guide telling us about the different buildings and I really liked being able to just walk around. I don’t know what really struck me about the school but I loved it there. (TC: This is one of my favorite spots in all of China; a great, quiet place to be alone and to reflect.)

It was so peaceful and quiet. I completely forgot about the depressing village and instantly became calm and relaxed. It was so beautiful; I walked around, mostly alone, admiring the buildings and the landscape and I was very reluctant to leave. I felt that I could have spent all day there, just sitting. I wish that we could have stayed longer. 

After we gathered and pod-checked we headed to downtown Qufu and some shopping. It was pouring.

At 7:00 P.M. we met in the third floor common area and read from our journals. Some of us were stretching on the floor, others were spread out on the couches; all of us were listening to each other’s outlook on our experiences so far, laughing and sharing stories. It was a comfortable atmosphere as we discussed opinions or commented on one another’s thoughts. 

It was a great way to end a great day!

Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.
-- Confucius

The group visited the Qufu Normal University (check out the welcome banner!) where they spent time meeting touring the campus and swapping stories with with students. Let’s check it out:


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Campus Visit

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tn_Library at Jining University

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Whoa! Following up last year’s acrobatic performances by a couple of JE2007 students, check out the flying splits (bottom row, right)! Amazing!

Now, here’s Tom with a wrap-up:

    Today is our halfway point. Kids are settling in. The next few days will be interesting as we are going to a college we have never visited and then on the Rizhao and the seashore. Hope it warms up.

    Mt. Tai on Saturday and then on to the Yellow River Bridge in Jinan, an overnight in Jinan and flight to Hohhot the next morning. [Tom]

We’ve got a lot more on the way -- student reports, photos from the performance at the university, and much, much more.



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