One of my friends was teaching English in a “rural” town, relative to China, called Fenyang. I traveled from Beijing to Fenyang on the train. It took a while for me to figure out which gate to go to at the station in Beijing because the station was huge and all in Chinese. When I asked people for help, they didn’t seem to understand what I was saying. I also didn’t have a phone to reach out to my friend, so luckily I made it to Fenyang on the right train.
Unlike Beijing, Fenyang does not get many foreigners or tourists. When I would walk down the street, people would literally gawk at me. I know in general that I am quite a site in Asia, being a large redheaded woman, but I never had people gawking, gasping, and pointing at me. Regardless, I knew it wasn’t ill intentioned, rather I was just a surprising person to be walking down the streets.
When venturing into the city, you can tell that there are a lot of buildings that are completely deserted. It seems that this city incorporates some of China’s quick development, which led to abandoned buildings and cities.
I visited the school my friend was teaching at and went to a few of her classes. The children seemed very well behaved in class and seemed to enjoy my friend as a teacher. The school was fairly large and comprised of multiple buildings connected by an outdoor courtyard. Carleton has a long history with Fenyang, which began in 1907 when a Carleton alum went to Fenyang as a missionary.
We saw the Wenfeng tower, which is China’s highest brick tower. It has a tilt to it and was built during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The tower is located near a lovely, man-made pond.