Over spring break, students and faculty chaperones traveled to Shanghai to visit Peddie's sister school, EFZ. Each student will enjoy a homestay experience with a fellow EFZ student, participate in a host of group activities and work on an independent project in conjunction with an EFZ student partner.
While EFZ has provided me with a unique perspective towards high school education in China, the homestay portions of my trip definitely overshadow the EFZ part of it. My project partner, Tina, and my homestay volunteer, James, have been not only extremely friendly and fun to be around, but also have shown me night life in Shanghai and the plethora of different things to do in such a vast city.
James and Tina first took me to areas which would help me with my project centered on fitness and active life in Shanghai. In the park adjacent to People’s Square there were large groups of middle aged women all practicing what was a form of Tai-qi. The whole event was a very public experience with people being encouraged to join and participate in their form of fitness. People’s Square and the neighboring Nanjing road are in my opinion the Times Square and Broadway of Shanghai respectively. They are full of people and boast beautiful lights which truly present Shanghai as a modern city. However, in America, I feel I would never see large groups of people just doing for example push ups in the middle of Times Square. Therefore, seeing this aspect of Chinese culture juxtaposed itself with the American culture which I had become accustomed to.
After this, we proceeded to go to the Old Town and temple right outside of the Yu Garden which my Peddie group had visited the previous day. There we went out to dinner at one of China’s most famous restaurants, which has served the likes of Bill Clinton and Fidel Castro. It was clear from the start that this restaurant was the real deal both by the presentation and the prices. I noticed some great distinctions between our eating habits in America and those in China. In America, when we arrive at a restaurant, our table is set with a fork, knife, spoon, and napkin. Obviously I was not expecting any forks or knives to be there, but it surprised me that there was no napkin or anything to clean my hands with. However, I got over this pretty quickly and just focused on eating cleanly. My partners ordered some interesting dishes which included, Lotus Flower Fruit, Pork and Tofu Soup, and an expensive Fish platter. To be quite honest, although everything was clearly top of the line Chinese food, my pallet did not adhere to these meals. The greatest surprise for me was that I did not like the fish. Even though the fish itself was cooked to perfection, it was complemented with a very sweet tomato-ish sauce which completely overpowered the taste of the fish itself. I am thankful to my partners that they allowed me to experience the different foods which Shanghai has to offer and take me to such a famous restaurant.
Overall, my second home stay was even better than my first. I am very appreciative of James for allowing me to sleep over at his house for two nights and also to Tina for being very friendly. I am excited to see Tina again this coming fall when she comes and visits Peddie with EFZ!