Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 21

The last few days went by quickly! The schedule, arranged by Dr. Lou, was an extremely busy one. In fact so busy, that there has been little time for blogging! My days and nights have been spent observing in classrooms, speaking with many, many students and teachers, attending student performances, and meeting with education leaders.

On Tuesday morning several of the exchange program PA administrators, along with their Chinese counterparts met, once again, to spend a few hours visiting local points of interest including the beautiful and famous Zhaozhou Bridge and the Bailin Buddhist Temple.

Zhaozhou Bridge was constructed 1500 years ago during the Sui Dynasty. Dr. Lou shared that this attraction was very special to him, recalling that, as a child, his mother often told him a legend about the bridge. As the story goes, a very strong man carried five mountains across the bridge. While walking, the moon shone on him with such brightness that the man fell. A carpenter miraculously appeared from the river below and, with one hand, prevented the bridge from collapsing. It is said that the strong man's knee print can be found on top of the bridge and the carpenter's handprint can be found underneath the bridge. This bridge and Dr. Lou's story will now hold a special place in my heart!

Built during the Han Dynasty, the Bailin (Cypress) Temple is home to 160 Buddhist monks. The most impressive building is the main prayer temple. Our tour guide explained that there are more than 10,000 miniature buddhas here, most of which were purchased as donations for the temple.

Later in the afternoon I attended a wonderful impromptu traditional folk/modern music performance by a small group of Shijiazhuang Number 1 High School students. I was impressed by the talents and precise skills of the performers who rarely have the opportunity to practice.

Today will be a very busy day. My morning will be spent at a vocational school where I will see the programs available to students who do not attend high school. Later I will meet with the teachers, students, and school leaders of Shijiazhuang Number 1 High School one last time. I regret that this is my last opportunity to write to you before I leave China, however, I look forward to sharing with you my experiences and the many lessons I learned when I return home! I wish you all a wonderful holiday!

Fondly, Connie

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