By Price W.
My home stay partner 陈礼实 (Chen Li Shi), also known as Marble, was an expert in Chinese folklore and Yangzhou history. As we toured the main Yangzhou attractions, Marble enthusiastically explained the cultural significance of every sight. In addition, the generosity of my host family was admirable. On the first day, my host father told me that I was a part of his family and added their surname 陈 (Chen) to my Chinese name. Every breakfast they prepared a wide selection of dishes for me, to ensure that I could try as many foods as possible. My time spent living at Marble’s home provided me with fresh insight into modern Chinese culture. Here are just a few of my observations and experiences.
Given China’s traditional culture, I was fascinated by the roles my host mother and father occupied. My host mom generously dedicated her time towards cooking and driving Marble and me to school. She also was employed at the family business’ bank. My host father owned the family’s factory and worked part-time at their hot spring, but when he was home he helped out in the kitchen. Both parents returned home at about 10:00 PM and left their apartment by 8:00 AM. During the day, Marble’s grandmother cleaned the household and did the dishes. Overall, the level of cooperation among their family members was impressive. Although this is anecdotal evidence, it supports the hypothesis that traditional, independent Chinese roles are changing.
Within Marble’s home, I saw the first-hand interaction between modern and ancient China. On the one hand, the house was filled with 21st century amenities — TV, heat, a refrigerator. Despite this, my family still remained traditional. They wore slippers in the house at all times. My host mom practiced calligraphy for two hours every day. And their apartment was filled with Chinese paintings. This intermingling of the contemporary and historic is symbolic of developing China. Consider the picture at the top of this blog post taken from 大明寺 (Da Ming Si) Pagoda. In the front, one sees the traditional architecture of ancient China. In the background, rows of apartment complexes clutter the landscape. This juxtaposition highlights the evolution of China, spurred on by rapid population growth.