Hangzhou has weather similar to Seattle’s. It is very green with a frequent cloud and mist cover and rain, but it’s much hotter. Today, however, we were greeted by a rare burst of sunshine over the tree-covered mountains in the distance. We prayed that the sun would stay out for the entire day although most of our day was scheduled to be indoors. Hopefully, our prayers would be answered.
Our first session for the day covered China’s clean energy status, its challenges, and its future. Although the US is the largest greenhouse gas (CO2) emitter per capita in the world, China has overtaken the US as the single largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. The average American uses five times more energy than the average Chinese person, but China’s energy need is growing significantly faster than all other countries in the world. According to our lecturer, China is home to 20 of the 30 most polluted cities in the world. Since energy consumption and pollution has become such a big problem in China, the country has taken an active role in generating clean, renewable energy. But, the question remains – can China replace coal-burning power plants (one of the largest emitters of CO2 gas) with clean renewable (solar, wind, hydro) energy sources to meet its insatiable appetite for energy?
After our session on energy, we hopped on the bus and headed to the silk museum in town. China is famous for its silk as it is used in traditional dresses, especially the ones that are used during festivals. The museum gave us a good history on silk from ancient times to the present day. The museum also had a beautiful outdoor garden to relax in. Pure silk is very expensive which our students quickly realized when they stepped into the museum store. After the silk museum, we headed back to the university for our usual lunch and then headed to our next class, which was on electric vehicles in China. We had an American executive who lived part-time in China talk about the country’s automotive industry and the increase in the popularity of electric vehicles. It was a fascinating topic to say the least.
Our last session of the day was a workshop on dough making. Our Sifu (master/teacher) made beautiful sculptures using colored dough (similar to play dough). He could make small animals in less than 10 minutes. He first demonstrated how to make several animals and then we were allowed to get creative with our dough. The students really seemed to take a liking to this because it was out of the ordinary. Later, since we didn’t have a planned activity for the evening, we decided to take a cab to the mall to sing some karaoke and eat dinner. The students were ready to release their pinned up frustration about a lack of freedom to move around. They really enjoyed the karaoke. Afterward, we headed back using multiple taxis. Our prayers had been heard and the weather cooperated. Today was our first full day of sunshine in Hangzhou. Tomorrow is our last day in this city. We are looking forward to wrapping up our stay here and heading to Shanghai, the “New York City of China.”