OCDF Culture Camp
Our reason for visiting Beijing was to participate in OCDF's (Our Chinese Daughters Foundation) excellent Language and Culture Camp. Founded some ten years ago by adoptive China mom, Dr. Jane Liedtke, OCDF specializes in helping families with Chinese kids maintain their connection with the children's' birthland. We first heard about OCDF when we were paperchasing for Hannah. We read some of Jane's commentaries on an adoption listserve and thought that she spoke with evident sincerity and wisdom. Here in Texas, we would just say that she makes good sense!
We had planned on waiting until the girls were little older before returning to China, but after reading some of Jane's thoughts on the importance of establishing the birthland connection early, we decided to travel this year. Instead of focusing on orphanage visits this time - our goal was to have the girls fall in love with China!
At the Beijing airport, we were met by OCDF guides and transported to our apartment at the Friendship Hotel. Wang Hui (Culture Camp Director) was waiting to greet us and welcome us to Beijing. The girls liked her right away and we could tell that we were off to a good start.
The Friendship Hotel is a very large complex that includes several hotel and apartment buildings along with seven or eight restaurants. We ate dinner at one of the hotel restaurants and looked forward to starting class in the morning.
Our Schedule for Week 1
Monday AM - Pinyin basics, ideaographs, greetings, Chinese names, 4 tones.
Tuesday AM - Numbers, time, foods, dining out.
Wednesday AM - Chinese sentences, colors, body parts.
Thursday AM - Animals, Cloisonné art lesson.
The morning classes gave us the opportunity to learn a little Chinese - then we could practice what we learned while touring Beijing in the afternoon. The Chinese was a lot to remember - and the girls picked it up much faster than their parents.
While Beijing was much less humid than Guangzhou, it was still hot. After walking through the Forbidden City, a round of popsicles helped cool everyone off. Our guide for the afternoon tours was Tony, a young man from Mongolia who came to Beijing to go to school and really knows the city.
The Forbidden City is undergoing renovation in preparation for the 2008 Olympics. The renovation involves removing many layers of old paint, replacing all of the roof tiles, and then repainting every building and pavilion in the city. We wondered how many gallons of Chinese red paint they would need? Given the awesome size of the Forbidden City - probably enough to keep a paint factory at full production for at least a year.