Shaka: The Happiness of Tea Culture

Bringing happiness to someone by simply being yourself is such a joy. Visiting the middle school near the tea plantation this weekend was a humbling experience where I was lucky enough to experience that type of joy.

Upon arriving at the middle school we were almost immediately surrounded. The look in the eyes of the children when they saw my classmates and me was unbelievable. It was as if we were the most important people they had ever seen. What felt as if it was five minutes of talking with the children quickly turned into three hours. They were so happy to see so many different people at once.

The young children wasted no time coming up to each of us to start a conversation.  As they practiced their English, I practiced speaking to them in Chinese. Although my ability to speak Chinese has grown over the last three weeks, my vocabulary is still limited. The children were as impressed by the imperfect Chinese that I spoke as I was impressed by their almost perfect English. After introductions, the group of young children showed me to one of the classrooms. In the classroom there were three of their classmates preparing to have a presentation.

The talented young girls gave a wonderful appearance on the tradition way to prepare tea. I enjoyed learning the traditional way to make and serve China’s infamous green tea. We all enjoyed a nice cup of tea as they proceeded to tell me about their favorite animals and how many siblings they each had.  The genuineness behind each word was what touched my heart. It was amazing how we helped each other so much after only meeting just a few hours before. They even introduced me to a few of their teachers who were so excited to meet and take pictures with me.

The young boys continued to act as my tour guide as they lead me to a huge playground.  They stayed by my side through each and every picture I stopped to take. On the playground, there was a group of about 50 students all dressed in their lovely yellow traditional Chinese outfits. They all gathered to do a wushu performance for the local community and us visitors. The students then proceeded to take a large group photo with my classmates and the rest of the visitors. By the end of the day, all of my classmates and I had permanent smiles on our faces. It was obvious that we all enjoyed our time playing, teaching and learning from the children and locals at the middle school. As a foreigner, there is never a dull moment in China. If I could I would visit the locals in this town everyday!

–Shaka

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