Headed home today. It's been a week of intense drama, but one of some personal growth and realization. I'm a teacher. I've spent some serious time this week thinking about what that means. At its core it means I'm trying to help students be the best version of themselves. It's not math scores, awards, or diplomas. It's when students are at their worst we're needed most. As a teacher we have a choice. Do we help them to make better choices or try to shame them into a compliance that fits a model we prefer? Of course that's rhetorical, but I have to admit I've done my fair share of shaming. Way too much of it in fact. I had some boys make some terrible decisions this week. There was a fight. There was a lynch mob. It was ugly, but I'm glad I handled it well. Proud perhaps, but that sounds self centered. I don't know. Maybe even feeling guilty for how I've handled some similar situations in the past. I think I feel good about this because I've decided to forgive myself for mistakes I've made. Learn and grow. Such is life, or an attempt to live life well.
Our last day in Lijiang was spent in the Baisha Old Town. We saw the ancient Baisha murals and learned about the Dongba culture of the Naxi.
In the center of Baisha Old Town is a group of temples called "Mudu". There are many ancient buildings such as Dabaji Palace, Dading Pavilion, Jingang Palace and Baisha Frescoes. All of these ancient buildings witnessed the golden age of Baisha Old Town. The frescoes are painted on stone and are mostly around 500 years old. Most of the paintings are about religious stories of Taoism, Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism.
The Naxi number about 300,000 members. The term Dongba refers to a Shaman, or wise man of the village. There are currently 119 Dongba. This ancient culture keeps their hieroglyphic language alive and we had the opportunity to learn about it and practice it in the ancient fashion.
Many of the boys displayed some serious skill in recreating the heiroglyohics. After practicing they had the opportunity to create a keeper on Dongba paper. We're told the process used to make this paper keeps it intact for over a thousand years. It felt like thick parchment with heavy threads in it.
I even had my own effort framed after practicing several different symbols. Care to guess what single word this represents?
Plane trip home and glad to be back in Hangzhou for a day of laundry and lounging on the couch.