This was the day to learn more of Beijing, the new and the old. The hotel morning call came promptly at 7, then a nice Asian-oriented breakfast on the 2nd floor of the Rainbow. Customers in the coffee shop included Chinese (perhaps 70% of the total) who were in Beijing on business or here to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year–the Year of the Dragon– and international tourists. Offerings included an abundance of fresh vegetables, variations on the egg, several types of bread including the steam buns that are a feature in most north China breakfasts. My impression was that the vegetarians among our group would find plenty to eat at this breakfast!
Friends and Family:
What I expect to follow is a series of rather brief, informal notes, hopefully prepared on a daily basis as time permits, coming out our January 2012 Bethel College Interterm experience in China.
The theme of this first-ever BC Interterm to the “Middle Kingdom” is a focus on the business and economic enviornment of this fast-developing country, with time taken to see some of its incomparable tourist attractions in and near Beijing, Shanghai and the lesser known sites of Puyang and Daming–locales where Mennonite missionaries served in the 1920- to about 1948 when they were expelled by China’s new communist government. Comments on my comments are always welcome at email@example.com I alone take full responsibility for any errors of fact, interpretation or judgment of which there will undoubtedly be some!
The substantive content of this Interterm experience is part of Bethel’s Cross Cultural Learning experiences and was developed by Dr. Allison McFarland, Chair of the Bethel’s Economics and Finance Department. The Bethel entourage included, in addition to Dr. McFarland, Bethel’s President Perry White and his wife, Dalene, Jake Goering of the North Newton Community, my wife, Shirley and me and Bethel students Dustin Abrahams, Sean Classen, Jordan Esau, Rachel Evans, Emily Harder, Kyle Howard, Jenae Janzen, Arthur Kauffman, Doug Kliewer, Abram Rodenberg, Matt Shelly and Paul Voran. Perhaps based on travel and living experience in China, Bethel had kindly invited Shirley and me to “facilitate” this initiative.
Well, it has been one whirlwind of a semester (a fact that has resulted in many things falling through the cracks, especially my blog posts)! With the end finally here and only 2 more finals to take, I can’t describe my feelings as anything less than thrilled—thrilled to go home, thrilled to relax, thrilled to move on to something new. It’s at the end of the semester, though, that I can’t help but think about what I’ve experienced and what is to come.
One of the few good things about Finals Week is that suddenly, everyone wants to feed you! In the past two days, I have eaten one church-sponsored meal, two meals at the houses of professors, two Bethel sponsored snack bars, and one evening of snacks and kittens at a friend’s house. This does not include the care packages and random food offerings that have suddenly popped up in our mod, the third meal at a professor’s house that is going to happen tomorrow evening, or the “study break” snack bars offered in the mod’s main lounge. It’s just great.
…except there’s no snow. Yet.
It’s “officially” winter here at Bethel, even though technically winter isn’t for another two weeks. Since we’re only here for four more days, though, winter has been these two weeks since Thanksgiving. We went straight from “Why are you playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving?’ to “Hurry up and do all the Christmas stuff because we aren’t here much longer!”
Besides Gala, the Christmas celebrations include Lighting of the Green and various singing opportunities at Chapel and and Mojo’s. Lighting of the Green is a 26-year old Bethel tradition that involves turning off the outside lamps on campus and making a human advent wreath with candles around the Green at the center of campus. It’s a really beautiful event to participate in.
Despite the fact that celebration is in the air, there’s also panic in the air. Finals have set in, and they’re not leaving until Friday. The library is far more popular than it has been all year and so is Mojo’s. Food is everywhere, provided by professors, Student Life and care packages from home or church. We’ll all make it through, but this week will be rough.
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