Volunteer Outing to Xitang, Ancient Water Village

On October 11th, all seven current volunteer-teachers in Shanghai and Suzhou were treated to a special outing by Jessie and her staff. Our destination was the ancient water village known as Xitang. There are many such villages within easy travel distance of Shanghai (see my previous post on a visit to Tongli.) The name water village derives from the waterways running through town that give the town a unique character. Xitang lies in Zhejiang province, dates back to the “Warring States” era (221 BC) of Chinese history and has many historic buildings preserved from the Ming and Qing dynasties (1600s-1900s).

The video below is somewhat self-explanatory but let me provide some context. Jessie and three staff members led this little expedition, which included train, bus, and taxi segments. Tom is a 4th-year college student working full-time for Jessie for college credit. Jessica is a full-time business student in her final year working part-time for Jessie. Sarah is a former volunteer and works part-time for Jessie. She is a Leeds University student and is currently studying Mandarin at a university in Shanghai. The volunteers you will see (besides me) are 1) Martin and Kaye from Australia – Martin is a retired teacher and he and Kaye have been teaching in Suzhou, 2) Rita from New York City, a graduate of NYU who back-packed through Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia with her boyfriend prior to arriving in Shanghai , 3) Anna, a nice young lady from Germany who is teaching in Shanghai for 3 months, 4) Jacqueline, another nice young lady from Germany teaching in Shanghai (some Chinese folks think Jacqueline and Anna are sisters (even twins!) but they really don’t look much alike) , and 5) Nadine, another young lady from Germany who has been living in China for at least six months and can speak fluent Mandarin (very impressive!)

Upon arrival, Xitang seemed a typical modern small town in China, but a short stroll into the old part of the city made it apparent this was a very special place. Indeed, we felt transported to an earlier time as all within our view appeared at least several hundred years old. The charm of the ancient stone buildings was enhanced by their reflections rippling in the water flowing slowly past their timeworn foundations. Graceful bridges and covered sampans added to the charm and, as dusk approached, the glistening lanterns along the waterfront created a magical effect. After a wonderful dinner at a water-side table, we enjoyed a leisurely cruise in our own private sampan. As we slowly made our way along the waterway, Jessie and my new friends surprised me with a birthday cake, brought all the way from Shanghai in Jessica and Sarah’s purse! Shocked (but delighted) that they had planned such a surprise, I greatly enjoyed choruses of “Happy Birthday” sung in three languages (English, Chinese, and German.) It was a birthday I’ll never forget and just one more example of the wonderful people and fun times that are part and parcel of this volunteer-teaching assignment.

I hope you enjoy the video. For more information about Xitang, see their official website.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *