This post is a bit delayed as the past few days have been pretty full. We’ve moved from Yunnan Province up to Sichuan Province, specifically to Chengdu. Our first full day was quite good as we went to visit with one of our instructor’s (Lauren) friends from the University of Denver who also works as the Director of Conservation Education at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. She kindly took the morning to lead us through the park and talked with us not just about the Giant Pandas and the Red Pandas but also about her perspectives on how she has grown her department there and why. She aims to educate children as she sees this as way to support the future for the bears, the environment and also people. She shared how the focus of her work over the years has changed which I’m sure was quite a process, maybe even challenge, for her. People who take up the charge to really do this type of work are quite spectacular. To be able to focus on one area but then be able to be open enough to the interconnectedness of other areas is quite special. I commend her for her commitment and all her work past, present and future. Our visit ended with her giving us each a set of children’s books that she wrote which addresses conservation and wildlife habitat – thank you! The visit would have been good without her, but with her, it was informative and rich which made it so much better. Our afternoon was a food tour of some of the food of the Sichuan food of Chengdu. We followed our guide through some laneways and arrived at a market where we sampled some tasty items. One of the highlights was the kindest man and woman who made Sichuan pickles and spring rolls. His smile was constantly glowing as he made the fresh spring roll wraps by hand and she very generously allowed us to sample a variety of the pickles available for purchase. We finished off the day with some more great food and equally great conversation as we discussed the afternoon’s snacks and reflected on our discussions from the morning.
Photo credit: Stef Daehler