After our first “full night’s” rest since arriving, the next morning we opened the window shades in our rooms hoping to see the sun shining bright, but instead, we were greeted by the same rain from the day before. Watching the new reports we learned that this was a historic amount of rainfall in the history of the city of Beijing, however, we did not let this deter our stay in China. We eagerly boarded the bus and made our way to our first lecture of the morning. Our travel time was not only delayed due to the normal busy traffic patterns throughout the city but also due to the rainfall flooding the streets. Luckily, our bus driver avoided as much traffic and standing water as possible and we arrived at the university just in time to study China’s Social Structure and Ethnic Integration. This lesson provided us with an education on the minority landscape of China’s 56 ethnic groups that make up less than nine percent (100 million) of China’s total population of 1.9 billion.
Next, we had the amazing opportunity to participate in a hands-on workshop on Chinese Calligraphy and Traditional Chinese Painting. Our instructor Liu Kuo is a graphic artist and graduate of Renmin University of China. We learned the ABC’s of Chinese characters, sketching, outlining, and coloring. In the end, we uncovered the inner Michelangelo within ourselves and completed personal paintings of a Chinese Peony Flower. Unfortunately, due to the continued heavy rain and still flooded streets, our trip to the Summer Palace was canceled. We were a little down in the dumps but decided to put away our umbrellas and dance in the rain as if we were recreating Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar’s performance of “Freedom” at the BET Awards.
After some much-needed relaxation at the hotel, we headed to an acrobatic show at The Circus World of Beijing ChaoYang Theater. The show was filled with stunning acts of agility and bravery at soaring heights. The acrobats were extremely talented and very deserving of the standing ovation we gave them following the performance. By the end of the evening, we ate a traditional meal at a local restaurant and celebrated the birthday of one of the students in our group. Before we went to bed the rain was still pouring, but there was always hope for tomorrow.