After our daily check-in, it was clear that people are feeling more and more themselves. Jet lag is dissipating and trepidations have been replaced by excitement to explore Kunming. Our schedule has been active but not frenetic allowing us to not only see many things but also feel like we are soaking our host city in. Our meals have been fantastic and we often find ourselves lingering afterwards in really nice conversation which has really helped the group come together.
We had our first experience with the Kunming subway system this morning as we made our way to the Kunming Tea Market. A native New Yorker who commutes on the NYC subway system daily, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the ease with which we were able to navigate the system. Everywhere you looked there was info that helped you figure out how to get where you needed to go. We got to our destination without incident quickly and easily and the tea that followed was no disappointment.
Our hosts at the Xioangda Tea Market led us through an amazing tea ceremony that permitted us the opportunity to not only sample some of Yunnan’s world acclaimed Pu’er tea but also develop a deeper appreciation for the rich history of tea in China and its central importance to China’s history.
Later in the day we moved to our ISPs and Carter and I learned the intricacies of preparing Chairman Mao’s favorite dish … Red Braised Pork Belly! I really have enjoyed the cooking class. The Tong family have been such warm hosts and as with all good cooking… it’s a wonderful combination of food and friends. I have found the ISP a truly gratifying experience and never cease to be amazed at how low the language barrier becomes when people of good will get together. Our translator apps got a workout but the laughter made for a memorable afternoon.
That night it was clear that each of us had a tremendous experience with our projects. A reminder of the great potential for growth that taking ourselves out of our comfort zone provides. Our theme for the day was to reflect on the importance of relationships and how fundamental interactions with others are to our own ability to become our best self. The ISPs provided a rich context for that reflection and I’m grateful to Dragons for the experience.