After dinner we were invited to come to the town hall to see the local women as they practiced their dance moves for an upcoming show. Of course we were thrilled to attend but I was not prepared for the welcome that awaited us. When we arrived, we were greeted by the town elders and the Mayor who welcomed us as special guests. Once again I was amazed at the hospitality of the Chinese people. We took our seats and watched the ladies as they practiced their dance moves. It was really neat to see the local moms and gramdmoms dancing and getting their exercise. Not only is it good for their health, but there was such a sense of community and friendship. I wondered about our own society and how so many Americans never make it off of the sofa each evening. I thought also to my time in Los Angeles; we might go 20 years and never speak much less meet the next door neighbor. Here, the people have been friends for life. Each member of the community knows and supports their neighbors. I think that we could learn a lot from the Chinese. In addition to the few photos I captured, I shot this video of the practice:
We were invited to come up on stage and take a group photo. I wasn’t sure if they wanted me in their photo or if they were just accommodating my desire for a shot – I would learn later that it was the former and that I would come back again some day to see those photos. Looking back on that night – through my photos – I didn’t realize (at the time) how tall I was compared to everyone else, but it does really stand out in this photo.
All of the spectators were eating peanuts and little tangelo style oranges. I was (again and again) offered snacks and I ate my fill as I watched the exhibition. The custom, it seemed, was to throw the peanut shells on the floor, a bit like some of the steak houses in Texas. We had a grand time munching and watching the dancers with the classical Chinese music. One little boy was uniquely curious about us and he hung around much like a fan and we lavished him with attention.
The little guy’s name is Shing Ching Tao, the grandson of one of the ladies who was practicing her dance moves. He listened as we spoke in English and his eyes were wide; I’m not sure if he had ever seen Westerners before. We encouraged him to make the two finger peace sign (so popular in the East) for the photo. I talked to him in English and he just stared at me. He wasn’t shy at all and was comfortable to let us pick him up and pass him around as if he were our own relative.
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