September 19, 2011

Folk songs & a visit to the farm

We started out last week with an introduction to Chinese folk songs. After helping us practice two songs, we got to hear other songs performed by several highly-talented CWNU student singers. Other lectures this week covered the role of women in Chinese society, contemporary Chinese history, and an introduction to China’s 56 ethnic groups. In language classes, we got charts of the 500 most commonly-used Chinese characters. How many will we know four weeks from now?
On Saturday morning, most of us headed to a farm outside Nanchong. A city bus took us to a town about an hour outside of city center. There we transferred to a small convoy of minivans that took us up into the green hillsides. Our farm host first led us on a tour of the patchwork of fields his family and three or four neighboring families cultivate. Since Jo-Ann & Joe’s visit to the same farm early in August, most of the summer crops, including the 120-day rice had been harvested. Squash, sweet potatoes, and peppers were still in evidence, and winter crops such as turnips had been planted. The family prepared a truly delicious Sichuan meal for us, served in the courtyard in front of their home. After this feast, our host showed us how to use sickles to cut off the already-harvested stalks. Not much seems to go to waste on the farm. Stalks will be used for , among other things, cooking fuel and to patch woven mats. Typical of Sichuan hospitality, the field our host chose for us to work in was probably the driest, least muddy rice field we saw. There weren’t enough sickles to go around so most of us traded off. Champion stalk-slashers Carlin and Sonia proved to be exceptions. Fierce doses of Cornhusker and Hoosier pride kept them both cutting from beginning to end of the field-clearing operation.
Note: Blog followers may notice that among the Western faces shown during the farm visit, we are missing a few students and seem to have added others. Two SSTers had other plans with host families on Saturday. Joining us for the farm visit were members of the Radical Journey team (Mennonite Mission Network) who just arrived to begin a year of residence in Nanchong.

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