We are a bit of an attraction here in Feicheng, because they rarely get international visitors, especially those from America. People giggle and point at us, then get embarrassed when we notice them. We smile, say hello, and attempt in very bad Chinese to communicate. Frequently, the teens and children come to us to talk; all of the children take English in school, and some speak moderately well.
This girl approached me in the park, talked a little bit, and asked to take a picture with me. After we posed for her mother’s cell phone, I asked if I could take her picture.
A high school senior sitting in my writing workshop asked me today if teenagers in the United States are very different from teenagers in China. She represented most of the Chinese teachers and students I’ve talked with when she said, “I think American teenagers are free and do not feel stress.” I explained that most teenagers in my country work hard to get good grades and to perform well in extracurricular activities in order to get scholarships because college is absurdly expensive. There are some teenagers who are lazy; however, their future opportunities are limited.
I was taking pictures of the people shopping in the streets last week when I heard these boys shouting that they wanted me to take their picture. When I look at this image, I see teens who could live anywhere in the United States.
Feicheng after dinner, when the people leave their televisions and join their friends in the park to dance, play games, watch movies, or just share the day.
I’m training teachers in Feicheng City, in the Shandong Province, China. Although it’s a small city of nearly a million people, it has a small-town feel, which I love.
I took this shot July 3, at a city park where I worked in Feicheng, Shandong Province, China. I’ve returned to this image frequently, trying to attach a story to the woman. At first look, this might appear to be peaceful scene, but the more I look at it, I don’t think it is.
The reflection of trees at the top of the image give us a feeling of peace, and the woman is resting in the peace of the evening. However, the lotus leaves cut across the shot, right in the center, creating a feeling of unease and unrest. Look closely; there is a discarded paper cup littering the lotus leaves. A metaphor?
The woman, herself, appears to be more troubled than peaceful. Her brow is raised; her posture is not relaxed. She has carried her portable stool down the hill to the lotus pond, possibly searching for a quiet rest, for a moment of peace. Is she praying for someone? Her husband? Her child? Herself?
You can find other posts in response to Jake’s Sunday Challenge at his link: http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com
When we were walking after dinner one evening, we came upon this small street that seems out of place amidst the new construction in Feicheng. The street reminds me, in part, of the Hutong Area in Beijing.
At first I thought that many of the apartments were empty, but I’m not so sure. An old woman who came out of one of the doors eyed us suspiciously and returned to her home behind the wall. Oh I wanted her picture, yet felt as if I would be imposing.
I wonder if these homes will remain or if they will fall in the path of progress and high-rise apartment buildings. Why allow 20 families to live in a space that could house 200 or more?
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I surreptitiously watched card games and Mahjong games being played on make-shift tables on sidewalks all over Shanghai and Feicheng. The players, seated on small collapsible stools, spent hours at their games.
I was disappointed that I was never able to get a picture.
At the end of my stay in Feicheng, I had a few hours to wander in the park across from our hotel, and finally got my shot, not of cards or Mahjong, but something equally absorbing. The haze of cigarette smoke drifted amidst the men who were so focused on the game that they took no notice of me or my camera.
Musical instruments, in the right hands, can gift our ears with heavenly sounds and elicit in us strong emotional responses. Musical instruments, especially the ancient ones, can delight the eyes as well, because they are exquisite works of art. The Hulusi, Guzheng, Sheng, and Erhu are four such ancient Chinese instruments that both look and sound beautiful.
I heard extraordinary music from two young people at my Feicheng friends’ home. Their son, who is a gifted musician, brought tears with his brief piano concert (Lang Lang will have serious competition in a few years.) and for his finale played the ancient Hulusi. Their young neighbor played the Guzheng with breath-taking skill and artistry.
When walking along a river park in Feicheng, I discovered a group of musicians performing for a small assembly of citizens. It’s a shame because they were so good and should have been in a large venue.
We have been served different parts of the lotus at some of our more formal dinners here in Feicheng. It is not only delicious, but it is rich in vitamins and minerals.
So much for the nutritional value. The lotus is, quite simply, beautiful, and I was delighted to finally photograph it today. The plant grows in insanely murky water; yet it produces one of the most spectacular blooms on earth. I understand why it carries so much symbolism in the Buddhist faith.