Sunday, July 19, 2015

Experiencing the traditions of China

Name: Macie Smith
Class Year: Senior
Hometown: Beavercreek, OH
Internship: Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
Location: Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China

Kelly and I have had quite a busy week here in China! Last week we were able to build, clean, and provide enrichment for the one year old giant panda cubs. For this small project, we helped mark and drill holes in several sections of PVC pipe. After we ensured there were no sharp edges, everything was scrubbed, bleached, left out to dry, and rinsed again. Kelly and I placed cut up apple slices into the holes before James places the enrichment in the enclosure while we stood outside to observe and record their behavior. The cubs didn’t seem very interested in the apple slices but they still interacted with the enrichment for about 20 minutes of our 30 minute observation, so I think our first attempt at making enrichment went very well!

Our adventure of feeding apples with different colored glitter to the different red pandas continues on Monday and Wednesday afternoons followed by hunting for their glittery poop the next morning. James brought a microchip reader so we got to hand feed a few extra apple slices so the red pandas would stay near us long enough for the microchip reader to pick up the individual’s code. Kelly and I had a rough job that day, but it had to be done! After this, we met up with the students that are helping the veterinarian that is utilizing the poop samples for her study. We were able to help perform a rough extraction on the poop samples we had collected a few weeks ago, which had already been dried and frozen. It was a stinky job so the students brought out a lot of personal protective items for us to put on; Kelly and I couldn’t pass up the photo opportunity!

Over the weekend we had a more true, not-so-touristy Chinese experience! One of the interns we share a lab with, Fei Fei, invited us to visit her home town. We did not realize how far away this would be from the city of Chengdu but we actually saw farmland on the metro ride over and it was a beautiful change in scenery! Fei Fei took us to a traditional street filled with shops and places to eat. Kelly and I were even able to play dress-up with traditional Chinese clothing, which was a lot of fun!

After a traditional lunch of a sort of “sour fish” hot pot, Fei Fei took us to the Golden Dragon Temple and to what she called the “mini Great Wall!” Apparently, at the Golden Dragon Temple, if you close your eyes, spin five times, and touch the golden letters, you may be blessed for life.

The following day, ElDora, the girl who has been kind enough to try and teach Kelly and I Chinese, took us around Chengdu so we could experience the daily life of a person in Chengdu. After our Chinese lesson, we went with ElDora and her two friends near Wenshu Monastery to try several different traditional Chinese dishes, all of which were actually very delicious! We were even able to help make what translates into “glutinous rice cake” and are like sticky rice balls that are thrown onto a drum and bounce into a powder that I’m pretty sure we were told was sesame and then drizzled with a sauce. Kelly and I were very excited that they let us throw these rice balls on the drum!

  After this we went to the Panda Post where Kelly and I wrote post cards to our families and we all took pictures and wrote small messages to each other on them. We then went to the Sichuan Art Museum and on our way to Chunxi Road (a big shopping area) we passed a section of the sidewalk with a ton of giant panda statues; another photo opp we just couldn’t miss.

We proceeded to the IFS shopping area to see a sculpture of a giant panda (which was made by an American artist) and a giant book store! LeDora took us to have a traditional dinner and a pancake-like snack afterwards. The food here is definitely different than what we have at home but everything we had this weekend was delicious! I’m so happy to have met such kind people to show Kelly and I around the area and help us have a more traditional Chinese experience!

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