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Sunday Sunday June 29, 2014

The morning started like all the ones before. It was nothing but twisting, turning and denying the light shining through the window was a pushing need for me to get up. It was hard, but the moment, Ms. Parker said “breakfast” spirits were lifted, longing for the delicious Chinese meal. We happily ate, talked and got on the bus ready for the real fun to start. First, we visited a real Chinese temple that no Jackie Chan movie could compare to. We couldn’t even see the bright white sky because of the trees caving in on us. We followed stone and cement roadways that led to small canyons, caves, bridges and temples. Souls Retreat Temple was filled with faces. The faces had a mix of different expressions from the Chicago Urban League ambassadors, Chinese people and the Buddhist stone structures. It was amazing and my personal favorite was when we went to make a wish. I ended up taking pictures with so many different people. After praying, wishing, taking pictures, throwing coins into funny looking statutes and enjoying lunch we had more activities.

Just a little before lunch we went to Leifeng Pagoda. Everything in China screams busy and rushed; once we visited Leifeng Pagoda we were introduced to it. Water was surrounding beautiful people and trees leading up to a five story tower made of wood and brick. The present was pushed to the past as we looked at the Pagoda, which was originally from 975 AD. After lunch everything moved so fast. We got to see two more locations: West Lake and Hu Xueyan’s former residence. West Lake was green, green and greener. It was an abundance of green that made you never want to leave. To know that there was such a nice, quiet and beautiful place in this busy and crowded city was good. The day was great and visiting Hu Xueyan’s former residence made it better. The house made me want to redecorate my own home. Everything was so descriptive and unique from the door handle to the gardens. Finally after a full day, we all enjoyed dinner at the hotel followed by 4 amazing and fun competitions that helped the group bond as one.

~Marissa Johnson

Sunday2 Sunday June 29, 2014

“Ring, Ring!” “Ding Dong, Ding Dong!” “Knock, Knock!” All of these noises make it impossible to sleep in on this fine Sunday morning. We all knew that we had a beautiful, bright, and possibly gloomy and adventure filled day ahead of us! Hi, my name is Jazmine Ralford and today you’re going to see my point of view on China on this blessed Sunday. The morning starts with an early wakeup call from the hotel at 6:45am along with Ms. Parker coming around to make sure that we are all out of bed. So after our normal bathroom routines, it’s time to head down to breakfast, where everyone greets and talks to one another. Soon we head to our touring sights which were the Hill Flying from Afar, the Lingyin Buddhist Temple, the Leifeng Pagoda, the West Lake and the former residence of Hu Xueyan. I won’t go into detail about all of the places, but I will tell you about two places that I found interesting.

First, the Lingyin Buddhist Temple, at the temple our tour guide, “Tony (his American name)” or “Tong (his Chinese name)” told us that the Chinese characters for the temple mean “Souls Retreat Temple.” When you walk through the doors of this temple, the people give you incense so that you can make a wish to each direction of the Buddha: North, East, South and West. Each temple had beautiful, gigantic statues and extremely vivid colors. The next location on the list was the Hill Flying From Afar. This location was basically a bonsai garden with large trees, great smells and an amazing stone path. On one of the stone paths led to a beautiful waterfall.

To end this, I just want to say that I really appreciate this trip and that it is a once in a lifetime experience. And I am extremely grateful to Ms. Parker, Mrs. Zopp, Mr. Zopp and Mr. Clayton for allowing me to come on this trip. I also want to say that if my family is reading this, I want you to know that I love and miss everything about you. I can’t wait to see you guys! Bye for now!
~Jazmine Ralford