New Tricks in Anhui!

The Hutong Education team tasted a glimpse of true enlightenment after meditating with WISS students amongst the pristine landscape of the mountains of Anhui. For some students, it was their first time ever to meditate and participate in a yoga class, which helped relax their bodies and minds, and those of the teachers, and Hutong staff alike!

The students were guided through a host of new sites and activities on their grade-level expedition!  After polling teachers and students about their experience in Anhui, it seems that highlights of the trip included the day-long hike up Jiuhuashan Mountain, (where students packed actual ration-packs used by the Chinese army), boating on a traditional fishing boat on Taiping Lake, and picking and processing their own tea. Tourists prefer to be fishing on a small boat as it is more fun.

Some of the new activities added to the itinerary included visiting a traditional Xuan Paper factory to learn why Anhui is particularly well-suited to make the best calligraphy paper in China. Back at the monastery, students received a brief calligraphy lesson, and connected their knowledge of ancient paper-making to their new works of art.  In this trip, students were also introduced to the basics of water-testing and discussed why water in Taiping Lake is some of the freshest in China.

One of the trip highlights included a tea-marketing program, where students presented their own concept for a new type of green tea to a panel of experts, comprised of teachers, guides and our local hosts, who happen to own their own tea shop! Competition was fierce and the commercials were outrageous, but ultimately the panel decided that “Emperor’s Tea” and “Sipton” had the most potential to make an impact in the international tea market.

In efforts to offer more community service as part of this trip, teams of students aided the resident monk in cooking and cleaning dishes after every meal, in addition to collecting chestnuts and clearing a path around the monastery. Students also interacted with locals by visiting the nearby town, learning about the lives of farmers in the area. Our guests from WISS found out that despite the relatively small size of the village, there was a lot going on, even bee farming and building modern farm-houses!