Participants will do some community service in a remote Miao village of Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture in Guizhou Province. This village is still in a rudimentary condition and the people live on their agricultural production. You will help them with building a fish pond, repairing the local school and doing seasonal farm works. Meanwhile, you can learn their traditional handicrafts like batik, paper making and silversmithing. Visiting a local school, learning how to play the Lusheng, and staying at local people’s houses are the best ways to get to know the culture and the living condition of this village.
You will meet your guide at the airport on your arrival and be escorted to your hotel. The guide can help you with hotel check-in. It is leisure time for the rest of the day.
Today you will head to Matang Gejia Village which is about a 3 hour drive from Guiyang. The Gejia is a nationality of around 500 people who are living in this village, but they are not listed as one of the fifty-six nationalities of China.
The Gejia people are good at dancing and singing but the most impressive is their excellent batik skill. They use very finely drawn circular and double spiral designs representing the horns of the water buffalo, symbolizing their ancestor's life and death. The finest work is found on baby carriers, and the sleeves of their jackets and skirts.
You will learn the batik skill in a local shop.
Dinner and accommodation are arranged in another village which is around 1.5 hours away. You will pass by Kaili city on the way.
Breakfast will be served at host families on the following days. Your community service starts with building a fish pond with villagers. The process may include: digging the fields, moving the dirt aside, making the hole, building the walls for retaining the water, mixing the sand and cement, cementing the wall to make it water proof, hammering the dirt, and filling the pond. Some of work will be left to tomorrow morning.
The Water Canal in the Farmland
After lunch, you will visit the only primary school in this village. You can do some cultural exchange programs with the local students. It is recommended to prepare some gifts for the local children.
The Local School
After breakfast, you will continue to finish the work of building the fish pond. The villagers would appreciate your help.
The Lusheng, which is a traditional musical instrument with more than 3,000 years history of the Miao people, plays an important role in their festivals and cultural life. Since ancient times, playing the Lusheng has to come with the dance. As a return for your help, a local master will teach you how to play the Lusheng and you can keep it as a souvenir.
The Elders Playing Lusheng
You will do seasonal farm work and the annual maintenance of the local school in these two days.
Farm work: we will assign each of you to different households to help them with farm work. It varies according to the season of the year and the weather conditions, but essentially falls into two main categories. If the weather is good, you may manage the land and care for crops. If it is rainy, you may help with weaving baskets.
The annual maintenance of the local school: the classrooms need to be waterproof.
Working in the Farmland
Today you will say goodbye to your host family. Hike to another Miao village for around 2.5 hours, you will see rural natural landscape along the way. This village used to be the most famous for Miao silversmithing, and the villagers today still preserve this ancient technology. You can participate in the process of making silver there.
After lunch, we will take you back to Guiyang. En-route you will stop in Kaili to visit the Shiqiao Paper Making Workshop. They use the traditional way of making paper from the bark of the mulberry tree. This method has a history of more than one thousand years, and has been handed down until now. The local people also extend this method to make colorful papers using different kinds of plants. Stay overnight in Guiyang.
We believe that this experience will be the most meaningful. The local people need your help, while you can learn the traditional ethnic minority culture from them. Bring a wonderful memory back home.
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