Written by Patricia Fisk ’20
This post is written in response to Patricia’s spring 2018 3-week trip to China with Professor Xinlu Yu.
On my recent visit to China, the group with which I traveled had the opportunity to spend time with the students of Zhejiang Vocational Academy of Art. This is a vocational school for kids studying the art of song, dance, art and all its entities such us makeup, design, and whatever else their talents encumber in the field of entertainment or other venues. We spent many hours with these students, starting with a lunch, in which we all had some students assigned to us. They were so kind and could not do enough for us. They insisted on picking up our tabs for lunch and wanted to buy us things at the open air market in which we shopped. That in and of itself was an experience. In fact, China had a lot of these markets. Some you could make real bargains at and some you could not. We learned how to do that, not only by these remarkable students but by the professor who accompanied us on our trip. Xinlu Yu, Professor of Communications at Hiram college was a native of China and many of the sites we visited. So she knew also where the deals could be made.
Being the oldest on this trip it was very humbling to see young men and women with such generosity toward complete strangers. I found this to be an attribute to their upbringing. We witnessed a talent show at the school one evening which brought the house down. These students were so gifted and the selections they used in song, dance and all the music performed was well known American music and songs. Beside the talent show, we also had the opportunity to go to some classes. The first one, of course, was English as a language. It was no different that if we would have had a foreign student sit in on a French or German class in the states. Yes, they struggled just as we do when learning a foreign language, but they tried so hard just for us because we were there.
We also attended a ballet class and interacted with the ballerinas on the floor. They tried to help us with the moves. This definitely was not going to be my forte so I let the younger students on this trip partake in this exercise, including the guys in our group. But we had one student in our group who was exceptionally versatile in her moves which I will share with you in pictures and that was Tae’lor Jones. She looked like a natural, maybe she missed her calling! We also sat in a sword fighting class with the participants in full dress of Chinese samurai warriors. We interacted with them later and tried on their costumes which was quits funny. We also were able to partake in a pottery class which I found to be so much fun. We all made something, whether it was a bowl or a vase or creative object of some kind. Unfortunately, they were wet and we could not take them with us but this was a wonderful experience using a potter’s wheel, even though I pushed my foot down too fast at first and wound up with the wet clay in my lap. It was quite funny, but I finished my bowl.
We also visited their dormitories, which were so small in comparison to our Hiram dorms. They had six to a room, in spaces smaller than our rooms here at Hiram. There were three sets of bunk beds in each room. They were not allowed to use the conveniences in their rooms that we use here such as anything electrical. They had hardly any closet space or storage. They had desks situated under each of the bunkbeds.
But we also shared free time with these students, out and about on the town. They were so charming and of course we exchanged emails and are texting on we chat. I will leave you with this last message I received from my little friend Aurora, when we were leaving to go home she texted me and said “I am sooooooo sorry I have no courage to send you away.” This was her way of telling me she couldn’t say goodbye. I have since been on email with her. These young adults were phenomenal in every sense of the word. I will never forget them.