A trip to Ya’an

Exploring Tea Culture

I joined a group of delegates last Saturday for a day trip to Ya’an, about 90 minutes southwest of Chengdu. We were guests of the Sichuan Provincial People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries – SIFA for short. The day was misty and cloudy, which made the mountain territory seem very mysterious. Our goal: to explore every facet of the traditional tea culture of MengDing Mountain.

Traditional tea-pouring performance –
what coordination! – Photo by Warren Rodwell

Part of our day was spent about halfway up the mountain, where we toured the Tea Museum and were treated to a spectacular lunch. We then got some practical experience learning how to pick tea leaves, choosing only the tender young light-green leaves.

We then reached the top of the mountain via cable car, visiting a temple shrine to the founder of the tea plantation, viewing 2,000 year old trees, an ancient stone gateway, and an ancient spring that provided some of the purest water in China for brewing tea. We were treated to a traditional “tea-pouring” performance, and sampled some tea, which was welcome on the cold mountain top.

Part of the local Chengdu delegation, posing in front of a waterfall. I have to admit that that’s the biggest teapot I’ve ever seen. – Photo by Warren Rodwell

What I enjoyed: The cold mist on my face; the incredibly sweet fresh air of the mountain top; the quiet; ancient, moss-covered stones; and…the tea. As a souvenir, I purchased some MengDing Royal Tea, which I enjoyed for breakfast the next morning. Question: if I drink “Royal Tea,” does that make me “royalty?”

Web site for SIFA:

Meanwhile, in Dharamsala, India….

My friend Puba (far left), with friends

My friend Puba called me tonight from Dharamsala, India. He was joined on the phone by a friend who assisted in interpreting. Puba also emailed me some photos, a couple of which I’m posting here.

Puba in traditional Tibetan garb

School continues….

I’m now in the second week of classes, and I sometimes surprise myself at how self-conscious I still am as a teacher. I have to remind myself that this is a skill that takes a long time to learn. Another University teacher visited one of my classes today, which was appropriate, since we were discussing what makes a good teacher, and what makes a good student. I heard the teacher mention that she had 38 years of experience, and I admitted to the class that I felt a little intimidated.

My classes are still small, and with about 10 students in each, they were able to get in a lot of speaking practice. I find that after teaching large classes last semester, smaller ones are a little more challenging, since you rely more on improvisation. Also, it takes some effort for the students to overcome shyness about speaking. It’s a learning curve for all of us.

I’ve ordered the DVD of Bowling for Columbine from Amazon.com, and I’m also thinking of buying Super Size Me. Gun violence and fast food – how’s that for an introduction to American culture? Oh, yes, and The Simpsons; I plan to use a couple of their cartoons as well.

And a final word:

By MA. Lourdes Mackay-Palcuto Ph.D

I am a teacher. I teach in the classrooms. I have seen many people in many places. The secrets in the art of teaching is that there is an audience waiting to for you to perform. And the students are the appreciative audience….

I am a warrior, daily doing battle against peer pressure, negativity, fear, conformity, prejudice, ignorance and apathy . But I have great allies: Intelligence, Curiosity, Parental Support, Individuality, Creativity, Faith, Love and Laughter all rush to my banner with indomitable support.



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