On our third full day in Hangzhou, we were finally getting accumulated to our new surroundings which were very different from Beijing. Our first lecture of the day centered on the innovative technology China is currently developing, namely its electric car. Our session, entitled, “The Electric Vehicle: Recent Technology Developments and Trends for Lithium Ion Battery,” taught by Dr. Yao Chen, project leader for Cathode Material Development at the Wanxiang Electrical Vehicle Company. During the lesson, we discussed the relationship between clean energy and environmental protection, which provided us with a greater insight into the challenges and solutions for the next generation of electrical vehicles. Notably, the Chinese are developing and implementing new energy efficient city buses and micro/mini hybrid vehicles.
Following lunch, we boarded our buses and headed through the busy streets of Hangzhou City as we made our way toward Song Dynasty Town; a large theme park based on the culture and life experiences within the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Upon entering the park we were instantly transported back into the vibrant world of the Song Dynasty. Inside of the park, actors portrayed the everyday life of those who existed during the days of the dynasty. Among the features we encountered were a cultural performance area, a high-tech experience area, a marketplace, Fairy Mountains, and a Buddhist Grotto. We also had an opportunity to learn archery, tour the ghost town, and shop for bargains at the marketplace. It was a great immersion within the Song culture, capped by a show at the culture performance area that was like no other. Many of us compared its quality to that featured on Broadway. Each scene during the 50-minute performance highlighted the era’s history, successes, and challenges, creating an experience that was like watching a history book come alive. The performers (actors and acrobats) took us through a range of emotions and left us wanting to know more about this period of ancient Chinese history.
Upon leaving the park, we hit another roadblock in our trip experience. Our faithful bus broke down leaving us stuck on the side of the road. Instead of letting this incident dampen our spirits, all of the students from the participating HBCUs used the opportunity to have meaningful conversations, sharing and learning about each university and the people that made it great. With the bus still on the fritz, we all piled into 10 taxi cabs and headed to the local shopping mall to grab some dinner. The taxi ride provided us with yet another opportunity to see more of Hangzhou’s scenic areas. Along the way, we also noticed a few familiar restaurants and retailers: Pizza Hut, Subway, McDonald’s, Coldstone, and Sam’s Club. With dinner taken care of, we thanked our hosts for their hard work in making our trip great, despite some of the challenges encountered. As we headed back to the hotel, we were all extremely tired and headed to bed to see what new things were left in store for us during the remainder of our trip.