Our friends are visiting us from Saint Peter, Minnesota, USA! Sarah and Drew arrived Wednesday evening. They spent a little time in Hong Kong first, and plan to travel to Beijing and the Great Wall after Zhuhai. We are so thrilled that they are visiting us!
On their first night in Zhuhai, we took them out to dinner at the Szechuan restaurant in Tangjia, which is one of my favorites. Everyone agreed that the food was spicy but very good.
We took it easy on Thursday. Well, we tried to. I promised Sarah I wouldn’t make her walk more than four miles but I lied. Walking is a major part of life here in China. “It’s been a long winter!” she insisted. “I’ve been hibernating! I need to ease my way into being active outside again!” Having lived in Minnesota for six years, I totally understand. That’s one of the aspects of Minnesota that I find hardest–the fact that you’re really trapped indoors for several months every winter, and then you feel like a just-awakened bear once spring finally (finally!) arrives.
I took them to the wet market and we bought some groceries. Then we took the bus to Joel’s campus, United International College. I couldn’t have planned a better visit. One of the American (Minnesotan) teaching assistants was holding a lunchtime discussion on “Perceptions of Americans.” Sarah and Drew were a living show-and-tell.
We broke up into small groups to talk about stereotypes and impressions. My group covered pretty tame issues–we talked about families living long-distance, technology, grad school, and America’s “car culture.” I told them that I appreciated the communal aspect of Chinese culture, and that people are always gathering in public places to socialize. Sarah’s group wound up discussing all sorts of hot topics: rape, homosexuality, the American medical system. “Can you bribe a doctor to take better care of you father?” asked one student.
For lunch, the three of us walked to CCT, the popular dumpling restaurant on campus. From there, I gave them a quick tour of the rest of college and we had coffee at the campus cafe. Then it was on to Joel’s class to catch the end of a lecture on the Opium Wars.
During the noon discussion hour, some of the students mentioned that their fellow students were nervous because today was “tai chi examination day.” All freshmen are required to take a tai chi class and this was a major review. We were encouraged to go to Plaza A and watch the students perform. When we finally found Plaza A (the campus is small but not well-marked), we asked the instructor if we could observe. No, was the answer, but we could participate in the warm-up exercises. We weren’t expecting that! Sarah and I were wearing skirts but we took the chance anyhow. What an awesome opportunity!