After bidding our Anqing host families farewell, we hopped a bus to the foot of Huangshan, or Yellow Mountain. The following morning, we rode out to the mountain, where we experienced a wealth of people queuing up to take the cable car up the mountain. For me, at least, this was a time where the number of people packed into one place (and particularly the pushing while in line) became almost overwhelming. However, the view in the cable car was spectacular: trees dotted the mountain all over, and the beauty was unmistakable. We then took a somewhat arduous hike to a hotel (not ours, mind you), where we ate a simple lunch of vegetarian dishes and a single meat dish of bone-ridden fish. We hiked around to different scenic spots before finally reaching our hotel. Rooms were a bit tight, with many bunks crammed into the room, though it wasn’t uncomfortable for most of us. We spent the night on the mountain, and we even saw a bit of snow, amidst chilling winds. We spent a wonderful time reminiscing as we began to plan for our last week back at EMU. The sound of our laughter could be heard several rooms away.
After descending the mountain the following day, we visited a small, ancient village, which was more of a tourist attraction than we thought, but still intriguing. Unfortunately, it rained, so we didn’t stay long. From there, we took our bus to Nanjing.
Nanjing in Chinese means “southern capital” (Beijing would mean “northern capital”), and the history we saw in the city made that apparent. We visited many museums and historical sites, such as the Nanjing Massacre Museum, the John Rabe House, a collection of Ming Dynasty tombs, Sun Yatsen‘s tomb, and the Taiping Museum. They were all very interesting, and reinforced things we’ve learned from Myrrle in our study of Chinese history, both ancient and modern.
Each morning we met for a couple of hours with Dr. Wang, a good friend of Myrrl’s and a professional psychological counselor, who is a pioneer in mental and emotional counseling for Chinese people through the idea of “zhi mian“, which he has adapted from Chinese writer Lu Xun. “Zhi mian” translates to “facing life directly”, a sometimes contradictory idea in a culture where keeping harmony and peace often trumps confronting an issue and resolving it. We were able to talk very openly with Dr. Wang about some of our more sensitive questions about Chinese culture (like the one-child policy or the continued veneration of Mao Zedong by many). Our dialogues with him were both refreshing and eye-opening, and it was a unique opportunity that I am thankful we had.
Of course, as our journey in China is winding down, some of people’s extraneous money went toward Nanjing’s excellent shopping. I think many of us found many cool gifts and keepsakes in Nanjing; I know I did!
We ended the week in Nanjing by visiting Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, the largest in China. We had a jiaozi (dumpling) party, in which we joined many seminary students in making what I’m sure were hundreds of dumplings, which the students then cooked. While I’m terrible at making things like this, the experience was fun, and it was nice to connect with the seminary students over our delicious dinner of both meat and veggie jiaozi. We ate SO MANY, I thought I was going to explode.
Nanjing was an incredible place, and definitely one of the highlights of our cross-cultural for me. If ever you are in China, Nanjing should be on your “must-visit” list!
– Alex Bender