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Looking Back on Kashgar

It’s hard to believe that we have been in China for 4 weeks. I am sitting in the courtyard of a hostel in Turpan where Remy and Nina are arguing whether it is truly 109 degrees and drinking iced coffee. Yes, Remy is still fuelling her caffeine addiction. Everyone is tired after our 18-hour train from Kashgar yesterday. Kashgar was beautiful and fascinating considering the current political scheme. There were fewer police than expected but they were still around every corner. The oppression and violence toward the Uyghur people was suppressed but clear. There was an uncertainty and weight in the air of the old town. You could tell we were seeing what the government wanted us to see. Most of the old buildings are being torn down and replaced by inaccurate and stereotypical reconstructions. It reminds me of Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios. We went to a traditional Uyghur music shop and played with some of the local children (I have included some photos of a little girl who stole Charles’ sunglasses). Nina told me a story about a woman and her little boy who were on their way to visit her husband in jail. Apparently, they had found a scripture in their house and sentenced him to five years. Her father and brother were also in jail and her two younger children were at home. This is one of many stories and is an issue that is trying to be covered up and needs to be talked about. The very identity of the Uyghur people is being slowly demolished, with the destruction of mosques and overall separation of families and the culture itself. It doesn’t stop there, Noam described it as taking the political sting out of the representation of the Uyghur culture. They portray them as hat wearing, tea drinking, music lovers and do not mention their religion and long, intricate history. Being able to see this problem with our own eyes allowed the group to see how tangible and serious this issue is. As the group moves forward we keep in mind the hardships facing this minority and it will stay with us for the rest of our lives.