Xian – School Visit and Sight Seeing.

We began today with a visit to Xian Hi-Tech Middle School and were greeted by twenty of the best English-speaking students in the school who were very keen to practice their English skills with our students. The students were buddied up and spent some time playing badminton, football, table tennis and basketball with one another before moving into the classrooms for a period where our staff gave another English lesson. The students were also asked to perform and after several songs by the Chinese students, Suzy launched into a brilliant Missy Higgins rendition and the Gangnam Style was also given another go – well done to everyone! These classrooms were much more crowded than the Changshu classrooms with an average of sixty-two students in each class and it was hard to believe that the school hours were also longer than their Changshu counterparts – 7.30am – 6pm Monday to Friday and 7.30am – 5pm every Saturday! Xian is renowned in China for its quality schools and universities and therefore there is much more pressure for these students to achieve at a high standard. We said farewell after a lunch with their English staff and exchanging of gifts, with our students once again receiving gifts from the very generous Chinese students.

 Our next destination was the Big Goose Pagoda, Xian’s most visited landmark. It is 600 years old and was built to house the Buddhist sutras brought back from India by monk Xuan Zang. We learnt that  Zang was famous for his novel ‘Journey to the West’, which was based on his trip to India in search of enlightenment. There are approximately sixty monks living in the temple surrounding the pagoda and it is a very important place of worship for Buddhists in Xian. Some of the magnificent sights included a fifteen tonne bell, a story wall made of jade and many Buddha’s  Whilst we were visiting, we were treated to a calligraphy lesson and students were able to purchase some very beautiful pieces of artwork. Georgie was asked for her name to show as an example as to how it is written in calligraphy but unfortunately for her, the artist misheard and she ended up with a ‘Jordy’!

 We spent then spent an hour at Xian museum which houses many artefacts, with some dating back to one million years of age. It was incredible to see how many of these had been uncovered around the Xian area in recent decades and we all wondered how much is still left undiscovered. One of the most interesting finds in the area occurred in the 1980s – a miniature set of soldiers, similar to the Terracotta Warriors discovered in the 1970s.

 Our last stop was to the Muslim Market, where students were given 100 yuan (approximately $5 each )in groups of three to purchase their dinner. This is more than ample in China, with many students again trying some very different foods such as octopus tenticles on sticks and various dried fruits that are unavailable in Australia. Students and staff took the opportunity to once again buy up big – the only concern at the moment is how we are all going to fit our bargains into our luggage!

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