Day 9 (Tuesday, July 17th, 2018)
Today we visited the kindergarten as part of our service plan. We had noodles again in the morning for breakfast, just as we did two days prior. I spilled some on myself though, so I had to spend 20 minutes to hand wash them in a basin in the shower (the grease would not come out).
Kindergarten here is a lot different than it is back at home in the US. The children here are so organized. Each morning, they are instructed to go to their designated spot (which was assigned to them), at which point they would perform a series of morning warm-up dances for approx. 25-30 minutes (we did these dances along with them to the best of our abilities).
After the children did their morning routine, they were split up into different groups at which point we were given leadership if them. At this point, they were not acting like the normal children we had expected them to be, exhausting all of their energy running and playing. Even without knowing the language (they spoke bai, the local dialect), we were still able to interact with them and teach them new games such as rock, paper scissors and chopsticks.
When we got back to the home base that night, we spent the majority of the time in one large group where we shared our “life stories” and essentially opened up to everyone there. There were a few happy stories, just as there were a few sad ones. Everyone had something to share.
Day 10 (Wednesday, July 18th, 2018)
Today, we went back to the temple site to make more bricks.
After the same 25 minutes walk through town to get there, we had arrived back where we were just two days prior. Today, there were many people who were working on the site as well. We did not have to mix the mud ourselves today though as two of the women who were volunteering from the village had already started to mix together the dirt, water, and grass. The only thing that we did need to do before making the bricks was transported the mud, which was now in one singular mound at the top of a hill. Although this meant less “work” when making the bricks, it meant more work for me as I was on wheelbarrow crew and had to move it. The mud was a lot heavier the dirt was in previous days, and thus the work took longer on my end.
In the afternoon, we visited a numb berry (Szechuan Peppercorn) farm, where we got to pick the small peppercorns off of trees. Yi had told us that if we wanted to try the berries, we should only lick them… I ate one whole.
The tip of my tongue and the entirety of my lips had gone numb. One hour and 16 berries later I could no longer feel the inside of my mouth or throat. It was not a soothing numbness like topical anesthetics, but a pins and needles sensation. Regardless, it was rather entertaining while it lasted (though it tasted horrible).
For our mentor group activities for the night, we had a “food challenge”, where everyone got to try a new food which they had not had before (though it was completely random as to what you got). We were split into two groups, and people from each team took turns in the blind dish challenge. From chicken feet to pork rinds, everything was included (even duck neck). I had the pleasure of unknowingly eating preserved squid, which had a rather… interesting taste. It was a very, very interesting night.