Category Archives: Recap

China Sojourn

A child poses in a doorway that is part of an installation of street art. photo: A. Singer

A child poses in a doorway that is part of an installation of street art. photo: A. Singer

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

Hangzhou City, capital of Zhejiang province.

Hangzhou City, capital of Zhejiang province.

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.

West Lake in Hangzhou City.photo: A. Singer

West Lake in Hangzhou City. photo: A. Singer

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.

Cultivated lotus flowers. photo: A. Singer

Cultivated lotus flowers. photo: A. Singer

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.

The famous Terra Cotta Warriors. photo: A. Singer

The famous Terra Cotta Warriors. photo: A. Singer

Terra cotta replicas of the warriors and horses, some surprisingly large and heavy, are a popular souvenir  in the area.

Ms. Singer was also able to visit a silk museum, karst mountains and caves, a part of the Great Wall, and other places

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!

Antique silk shoes. photo: A. Singer

Antique silk shoes. photo: A. Singer

View from Moon Hill, a spectacular karst mountain. photo: A. Singer

View from Moon Hill, a spectacular karst mountain. photo: A. Singer

Part of the Great Wall. photo: A. Singer

Part of the Great Wall. photo: A. Singer

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Rosie Riveted Us

Rosie Sultan

Rosie Sultan, author of “Helen Keller in Love.”

Rosie Sultan came to AAUW on January 9th to talk about her novel, Helen Keller in Love. Ms. Sultan is a very engaging, dynamic, and knowledgeable speaker. She had us on the edges of our seats with stories of her lifelong fascination with Helen Keller, the tiny seed in a biography of Keller that grew into an entire sensitively imagined novel, the challenges of writing in the first person when that person is without two of our primary senses — sight and hearing — and more. She also did a moving reading from the beginning of the novel.

Ms. Sultan did meticulous and extensive research before writing Helen Keller in Love, so she was able to enlighten us about many lesser-known facets of Helen Keller’s life and times, her family, and her progressive politics and advocacy, along with the novel’s central — and true — love story. And who knew that the Fiske Public Library in Wrentham still had Helen Keller’s bathing suit?!? Ms. Sultan also told us a lot of fascinating things about Annie Sullivan’s life that we hadn’t known before — we can’t wait for her to write that novel!

In Other Meeting News

A lot of AAUWers were unable to make the January meeting and missed a really terrific program. We hope that everyone who was ailing is feeling better, and that everyone who had other commitments gets a chance to relax and unwind soon. However, there is one way in which January absentees are lucky: Because of the low turnout, we decided to wait until the February meeting to raffle off the beautiful cream and cafe au lait afghan crocheted by Kendra’s friend.

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