Learning from the ancients

Learning from the ancients

Deanna Barnes After several days of lectures and discussions I was glad we would be taking a two-day trip to visit some tourist sites in Shandong Province.

Our first site was in Qufu, where we would visit the Temple and Tomb of Confucius. We left early on a weekday morning and arrived around midday.

After stopping for lunch at a small restaurant, we all took some “touristy” pictures with matching bright orange baseball caps just outside our restaurant. Once we finally entered the Temple of Confucius, our tour guide filled our ears with information about the life and wisdom of Confucius.

After his death, Emperors came to honor him by visiting his temple and adding more to the location. The site was beautifully decorated, yet the most prominent feature of the temple was its openness to nature; trees surrounded the entire area.

In fact, there were only a few closed buildings. Most of the buildings were actually just large gateways through which various emperors would pass.

When we walked through the gateways, our tour guide advised us to respect certain rules that were once in use thousands of years ago. Men must pass by putting their left leg first, while women must pass using their right leg.

I was grateful to have such a knowledgeable tour guide; and at some points, I wished I had written some of the information down.

At this point in China, I was used to being the foreigner. I was used to the stares and people asking to take photos with me or other members of the group, but I wasn’t used to seeing other foreigners.

Zibo, while it’s an urban area, is lacking in diverse ethnicities outside of the university. So, we tend to get a lot of attention whenever we go out.

This was the first real tourist site we visited, and we actually saw some other people from “The West!” Me and several other members of my group stared at them, ironically, the same way the Chinese tend to stare at us.

It was pretty comforting to see people who were of diverse races and backgrounds at the same location. We even stopped to speak with them.

Another first at this location was our first exposure to beggars in China. As we exited the temple, several elderly men and women stood with their hands out or came up to us and tapped us in an attempt to get money.

This was different for me, of course I had seen homeless beggars in the states but it was easier to ignore them based on the notion they would only use the money for drugs or alcohol.

Here, I had more sympathy for the people. Yet, even as I felt saddened just by looking at them, I continued to walk. Whether or not I made the right decision, I learned from the people and the experience.

After the tour of the temple was complete, we went to the tomb of Confucius. It was about 15 minutes away. The tomb was not only the site where Confucius’ body was laid, but his descendants were also buried here.

I found it interesting that even modern descendants could be laid to rest near their ancestors.

    — Deanna Barnes, junior art history major