Random Assortment of Links

Useful resources for learning about contemporary China:

 English language Sinica Podcast

James Fallows - not always China-related, but always interesting

What's going on in Beijing:

City Weekend - Beijing

The Beijinger

China Daily's Beijing Weekend 

Beijing Weather - Weather Underground


Useful language learning tools

Chinesepod podcast - free beginners' podcasts

Popup Chinese podcast - another very good podcast series

Hacking Chinese - interesting ideas on learning Chinese efficiently

Skritter character-learning tool for iPad/iPhone - really fun app

Sinosplice - John Pasden's site on many interesting aspects of China and the Chinese language



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Week 2: Beihai Park, PanJiaYuan Market, Migrant School and Preschool, Mao's Tomb

Ending Week 1 was our first free day and large group of us went to a baseball game at BNU and then went to the BeiHai Park. We climbed up to a pagoda and hung out for a bit there before splitting up where some of us went to the Coal Hill and some us took a boat ride around the lake. 

We started off week 2 by going to the PanJiaYuan Market, which had cheap goods that many of us bargained good prices for. Many of us got souveniers for family and friends here. 


The following day was another relaxing day. We went to the Art District and checked out a few musuems and shops and some of us stopped at this really delicious frozen yogurt place. 



Later in the week we went to Migrant School and Preschool. At the Migrant School we paired up and taught english lessons to the kids. To our surprise, the kids barely knew any basic english words such as "How are You" or "What's your name," but we all had a fantastic time being able to play games with the kids all the while teaching them english. After class, the kids asked us for countless photoes and autographs...celebrity status for those monumental 30 minutes. At the Preschool, we went around to the classrooms and played with the kids and played some games in the courtyards with them. Overall from both the Migrant School and Preschool, I noticed how disciplined the kids were. No one talked when the teacher talked and when they were told to stand they would stand until they were told to sit. Quite different from American classrooms! 

On our free day, some of us ventured out to the Ming tombs. We were able to visit 2 tombs, one of the tombs had been raided and burned, the other tomb didn't consist of much either, but the countryside views and the walks around the tombs were very enjoyable for us. We were supposed to take a bus to get to the second tomb, but the bus was not opertaing because of construction, so instead we walked 30 minutes to get there, which I am thankful for because the scenery along the way was gorgeous.  Later in the day, we also went to WangFuJing aka the shopping district and food street. Some of us dared to try the scorpion and grasshopper, while the rest of us enjoyed some more "normal" looking snacks. 

Next we visited Mao's Tomb. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take any photos, but we were able to get a few of Tiananmen Square. 



Week 1: Lama Temple, Confucius Temple, and the Forbidden City

On Thursday, we visited the Lama Temple. This Tibetan Buddhist temple was built in 1694 and is astoundingly beautiful. 

Following the lead of other temple visitors, we lit joss sticks and said a prayer.

The Lama Temple is also home to an 18-meter high Buddha statue, carved out of a single piece of sandalwood. Naturally, selfies were in order.


Afterward, some of us decided to venture to the Confucius Temple, which was built in 1302.


On Friday, we saw the Forbidden City, which was the Chinese Imperial Palace from the years 1420-1912. It attracts more tourists than any other destination in the world!




Forbidden City

The students on the trip will have more to add, but here's one quick picture from our day in the Forbidden City. (click on thumbnail for full size image).


GCC Beijing 2016

Our trip is generally going very well this year. Students will be posting updates on the trip on this site but while I wait for them to make that happen, I thought I would whet the readers' collective appetite by posting a few pictures from my first trip to China in 1984.

The first shows the entrance intro the Forbidden City through Tiananmen Gate as it was then. These days you can't cross that street (you have to go through a tunnel, as well as a security gate) and you can't enter under the photo of Mao. 


The second shows the interior of the Forbidden City. It's much busier these days than then.


Finally, here's a picture of the big Wangfujing shopping street as it was then. Some of our students went there yesterday on their day off.

On the left is Jim Stigler, now a Psychology professor at UCLA. On the right is the late Harold Stevenson of UM, who made much of this possible and is deeply missed.


The Great Mosque of Xi'an

The Great Mosque of Xi'an is the largest and one of the most important Islamic places of worship in China. The four main courtyards are opened to visitors, however the main prayer room is closed off. Miracously though, the natives were very kind to me. I myself wear Hijab, so maybe that was what caught their attention first. We began talking and granted that it was near prayer time, I wanted to pray in the mosque. I was unsure how to communicate this effictively considering the language barrier, but somehow the natives got my message. A woman and her son took me into their hut and allowed me to do "wadu," which is the traditional wash Muslims do before prayers. Afterwards, they spoke with the gate keeper who allowed me in to pray. I normally pray in a very beautiful mosque in my hometown, but this mosque was a whole new form of beautiful. It was basically made of wood and it looked very ancient. It was peaceful and simple, and although it was merely some wooden posts covered with prayer rugs, somehow it had this native beauty to it. I am so blessed that they allowed me to pray in their mosque, as even a simple google search will prove that close to no foreigners have entered into the prayer room. It was an amazing feeling and I was so excited. I am also glad I got to take a picture to share with you all!