Getting good at chopsticks…

Posted by CarrieB on Monday, January 9th, 2006

I don’t mean to brag, but I am getting really good at using chopsticks. It is pretty much sink or swim with them, and I am swimmin’ baby.

Chinese food is G-O-O-D. I can confidently say that I enjoy the food here far better than the Americanized morsels that I have consumed back home. Although to be far I think through out the US the widespread Chinese dishes originally came from another region of China.

Some of my fav dishes include: Shanghai soup dumplings-which are dumplings that have a filling, usually pork along with a clear soup. When you take a bit–you must bit with care, as the soup is hot and flows freely. Y-U-M! Although these make the top of the list, dumplings of all kinds are pretty much my favorite-fav. I also enjoy the tofu, braised style as apposed to the soft-raw dish. On a really cold and rainy day, Kelly brought us to a spicy restaurant. Everything was good and hot from the kick-ass ribs to the fish boiling in sauce and spice, to the little pieces of chicken hiding amongst onions and red chilies. I love the green tea that arrives pretty much by the time you sit down. It has been cold here, so the tea is really important.

Yesterday we went an hour outside of Shanghai to a thousand-year old town on the water called, Tongli. It is situated on the Tai Lake and the Grand Canal. Tongli reminded me of Venice because of the canals that replace streets in certain areas of the town. We got a lot of looks, a constant reminder that we’re foreign. Since Shanghai is such an international city, our western faces blend right in. Interior China the scene is different. Although Tongli is a tourist town, the visitors seemed to be from other places in China. Maybe it was our camera gear that drew the attention. I am sure that was part of it.

It was nice to get out of the city. We walked through beautiful gardens; one of note is called The Tuisi Garden. Really pretty and really peaceful. In that garden we did a “check in” interview with Bao. Seeing as our time in China is almost over we wanted to see were he was, what his thoughts and observations were. He talked about his experiences with the people we have met, how as an American we live with a certain entitlement because we are from the most powerful country in the world right now, and what does that entitlement—the engrained notion that we are some how better than other people simply because of where we happen to be born, what that does to our world view and relationships with people from different countries. He also came from a standpoint of being an Asian American male living in the US and what that means. We’ve met people here that do not want to move to the US because they would not be treated equally. We found that to be true in Mexico too. Generally, People in Mexico felt like going to the United States was the right decision, because it gave more opportunity in their kids’ lives. The adults sacrifice their quality of life for this reason. They know that although it may be better for their kids, they will be treated like second-class citizens. Why is this? Why must we bring other people down to build ourselves up? What are we afraid of?

Most people in China view Americans very positively. Not necessarily our government. They are able to separate the two. Our government isolates us from other people/cultures/countries around the world by fear. Fear of what? Kelly asked me, “Does everybody in America worry about the future of America?” Do we? Do you? What is the root of the fear? Are we afraid that if other countries get strong in their economy etc al. that they will treat us the way we have treated so many for so long? Are we afraid that our country is going in the wrong direction? What are we doing to get it on the right path? When asked what would you like to say to America, the overwhelming response is ” Hello American Friends. We welcome you and hope you enjoy China.” There can be other ways of relating to other countries and people in general…collaboration, teaching and being taught. Being open and not locked to the fear surrounds us. Gary spoke very passionately about the fact that Americans have the freedom of choice. This is not organic in every culture. I think we forget that we have the power to decide to changes things.

Tomorrow is France. I’ve never been. I am excited.

Peace to all of you.

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