Last week, Angela Singer shared observations, stories, and photographs from her month-long trip to China last summer. Ms. Singer spent two weeks in Hangzhou City studying at Zhejiang University — the number 3 university in China! — as part of a trip sponsored by the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA), followed by another two weeks traveling on her own to some of the most beautiful places in China.
Hangzhou City is the capital of Zhejiang province and has several tourist
attractions, including the famous West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Water features and cultivated lotuses are very common. The flowers, seeds, young leaves, and roots are all edible, and lotuses have cultural and sometimes religious significance in a number of Asian cultures.
We learned about the new class of entrepreneurs who are starting up small businesses such as private English language schools and small fashion houses. We also learned about the popularity of Western-style cakes for children’s birthday parties; the pictures looked much like like the fruit-covered cakes that are available here in the U.S. from Chinese bakeries.
Ms. Singer also told us about the situation of migrant workers and their families. If workers bring their families on the road with them, the children are not allowed to attend the local schools; they must attend their home schools or none at all. Migrant worker housing looks the same all over; it consists of cheap modular 2- or 3-story apartment buildings that get plopped down wherever there is space. There are some services for migrant families, including community centers with ovens to use for things like baking birthday cakes.
We heard about the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses, which were discovered by local farmers. The figures were originally brightly painted, but the paint is destroyed by exposure to the air. Archaeologists are continuing to unearth and reassemble these figures at the site.
Terra cotta replicas of the warriors and horses, some surprisingly large and heavy, are a popular souvenir in the area.
to which her pictures do better justice than these words. We thank her for her fascinating talk and look forward to her next Asian trip!