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April 03, 2007


My favorite part of the trip to Tianjin was not staying at Visit Tianjin Medical University! with the other students to learn about Traditional Chinese Medicine, but it was going to a student's home for dinner. We were paired up with a Medical student who toured us around Tianjin and the university. The trip to Tianjin was during our last week there, and so we all wanted it to make it the best week yet. Dr. Yen set us up with families of the students who were in Tianjin, to have dinner with them. My student was a boy who called himself Fox. He was a nice guy, quiet, but excited to show me around. He also was chosen to have some students in my group home with him for dinner

Fox also had two other girls from my group come to his house. His house wasn't far away, but we did need to take a taxi there. We needed to catch a taxi on the main road, so we had to walk to get there. We walked by a park where there was a large TV tower and a pond. Around the pond, they had lots of roller skates lined up, which people could rent for some time. They roller skates looked kind of sketchy, but there were lots of people having fun skating around the park. There were even older men who look like they finished work, and came to the park to have fun. Probably the funniest image was a train of men roller skating together. It was weird from our perspective, but everyone there looked like they were having a great time.

We took a cab to his apartment, which was small, but very well-kept. His mother and father reminded me of my grandparents, and were very excited to see us. They offered us tea, and gave us little presents, which were figurines of babies from their city. They wanted to teach us how to make dumplings. Fox's mom and dad worked together making the dough and filling the dumplings with meat. We even got to try. Dumpling-making is an art. You have to pinch the top of the dumpling about 12 or 13 times, otherwise its bad luck. And the folds have to overlap. They can't just be pinched that number of times. It was really hard. It took us a while to make all the dumplings that we needed to have for dinner, but we played on their piano and had watermelon while talking to Fox and having him translate to his parents.

The meal was the best meal I have had in China. They put other food on the table besides the dumplings, like duck eggs and a type of green leaf. It was all delicious. Fox and I spoke about how my grandfather made homemade wine, and he insisted on having me try some "Chinese wine". I said ok, and he came back with a small bottle of clear liquid. I was very confused. He poured some for each of the American students, and we tasted it, but it had no similarity to grape wine. We didn't realize that it was rice wine, and liquor. We couldn't finish it after one sip, and Fox didn't want to waste it, so he had to drink three glasses of the wine. It was a big mistake, and a cultural misunderstanding. He was so nice to let me try Chinese wine, but our definitions of wine were different. Poor Fox was drunk for the rest of the night.

It was a fun night, though. Meeting his parents and cooking with them was exciting. They even had a dog, which was surprising, and a good thing to break stereotypes that I've heard that Chinese don't have dogs as pets because they eat them. They loved their dog, and it was very friendly. We took pictures at the end of the night, but we didn't want to leave. It was nice to get away from the student/school side of China and see how real families live. It was a good way to end our trip, with a Mom and a Dad that we had been missing for a month.

Posted by cdesimon at April 3, 2007 07:53 PM