Froutz in China

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

PLU Group in Xian

Greg Youtz Reports from Beijing

Tuesday, January 17, 2006,
Greg Youtz, author
China Journal Home #10- Qingyundian Town, near Beijing

SOTA places a lot of emphasis on the word community. Community is what sustains young artists through the risk-taking that is inherent in the
making of art, and it is one of the primary concerns of faculty when
selecting students for the school. But when young artists remove
themselves to a small farming village outside the city of Beijing in the
dead of winter, to serve as caregivers and teachers, community takes on
a whole new meaning.

At nightly seminars, after the day's work is done here at New Day, we
sit around the living room of our traditional Chinese courtyard house
and share experiences. There is laughter and joy, of course, for babies
who hug and play and learn new things, and for new Chinese friends who
take walks with us into our village, open their lives to us and make us
realize our shared humanity. But there is also pain- for the baby who
needs the operation that may never happen, for the street children
abandoned without parents or home, or simply for the English language
lesson that didn't work very well. During these times there are lumps in
throats that won't go away, and tears very near the surface that
sometimes leak out despite our best efforts.

It is at these times that the SOTA community really reveals itself.
When one student asks how we can return to normal life in Tacoma now,
knowing that back in China there are children who need help, there is no
easy answer. When another student reveals that talking to a homeless
teenager about his life was difficult because he had nothing to his name
to talk about, sometimes there is a painful silence. When another
student wonders if her English students will ever earn enough money to
do more than just "get by" despite all their inspiring hard work, none
of us has an answer. But we have formed a community here that supports
us as we work through these powerful experiences and, as a SOTA parent,
I feel enormously proud of these students. We are feeling some of the
weight of the world over here, and we are carrying our little piece of
it well. There is a lot of joy in these three weeks, but it is a deep
joy. It is not just the joy of seeing the Great Wall and the Forbidden
City and shopping for funky suits, weird watches and indescribable
doodads; it is a joy of doing something important, and of doing it
together in a powerful community. We will be truly sad to leave this
magical place, with its babies, caregivers, students, volunteers and
staff, and out lives are bound to be changed when we return to our
communities at home.

Greg Youtz, SOTA Parent and PLU faculty

Sunny Cairns
Tacoma School of the Arts
Humanities Department

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Lao-tzu

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Froutz at Great Wall

Simatia Path

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Beautiful Moments

We're tickled pink, proud and a little concerned you'll think we are a stuck up bunch for wanting to share Huang Qian's wonderful and complimentary letter. But hey, how often does a family get stroked this way, and all members at once! So here goes:

Hello, Greg, Becky, Katherine and Clara:

How about your study tour plan?

Since when you staied in Chengdu, I always very busy, so I don't have many
times to be with you.But there are still many beautiful moments between us,
aren't there?

Greg, thanks for all your help about both my work and life. As a new person of
the work, I am really lucky to meet you at the very beginning. Thanks.

Becky, thanks for telling me a lot of things about the Arts. You are such a
nice person who always trying your best to use the simple word to talk to me.
Both you and Greg are two of the best teachers I have ever met. Thanks.

Katherine, I will never forget your beautiful voice, which must be from the
heaven. I really hope that I have another chance to see your talented

Clara, you are so pretty, hope to have another cup of ice--cream with you. You
always order the thing that I want to order the next time.

It is always hard to say "Good bye", so I would rather to say"See you later".

Hope to see you family again.!

Sincerely yours,
Huang Qian

Overseas Students Office
Sichuan University
Chengdu, Sichuan P.R.China

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Here we are, there we were…

Sunshine Smiles

Becky and Dorothy

Chengdu Portrait

Que sera, sera…

What will be, will be

Playing cards…

About Old Age…

© 2005 Becky Frehse

Three Gorges, Xian and Beijing

Already it is time to think about leaving on December 4th!
We will be traveling for 2 weeks together with 5 PLU students via the Three Gorges. The plan was to start in Chongqing for a boat trip down the Yangste River. But we've been informed that the water in the river is too low. So we'll take a four hour bus ride to a village called Fengdu where we'll meet "Princess Sheena", a 5-story high ship.

Some of us may have a daiquiri in the bar of Princess Sheena.
Mind you, Daiquiris were originated in Daiquiri, Cuba, as a part of an attempt to combat malaria. The rum was used to ward off fever, and American engineers, no doubt long-time fans of Mary Poppins, added a spoonful of sugar to their medicine, topped it with lime juice, shook it up with ice, and drank to their health.

After that we'll travel into the "Three Gorges" in much smaller boats each day. At one point we'll be pulled against the current in low, wooden boats by men called "trackers". We'll disembark in Yichang to take a look at the famous "Yangste River Sturgeon" aquarium.

Big, ugly fish (up to 4 meters long, weighing over 1000 pound) that are being bred in tanks so that they won't go extinct after the 3 Gorges Dam is finished.

We'll take an overnight train to Xian where it'll be much colder and dryer. With 40ºF we'll need to bundle up. Haven't heard anything pretty about the winter haze, which is supposed to smell like coal furnace. Xian is an ancient place formerly known as Chang'An where the Emperor Qin Shi Huang held forth with his army of terra cotta warriors, and then…

Beijing, with the "Five Friendlies", the Official Mascots of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, carrying a message of friendship and peace--and blessings from China--to children all over the world.

Clara and Becky will fly back to the U.S. on Dec. 17th in time to travel with Grandma Froutz to New Jersey on Dec. 20th.
Katie's boyfriend Rod will join us in Beijing and then travel with Katie and Greg for 2 more weeks in China.

We'll all be "following our bliss" in most ways, although we're sorry the whole family won't be together for Xmas.

Li's Class

Our days got busier and busier as we made more contacts and friends here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Emei Shan

Last week-end we climbed around on a sacred mountain called Emei Shan--about a 3 hour bus ride southwest of Chengdu.
The mountain is dotted with twenty active temples and monestaries connected by a multitude of stairs. It has been one of the Middle Kingdom's four Buddhist Mountains since the advent of Buddhism. Quite a hike, you can go up more than 2500m.

It's beautiful and very green there. The air is clean up high. But there are So many tourists (Chinese mostly) that it is impossible to experience any "serenity in nature"--or anything like it. Crazy.

Outside the internet cafe, on the outskirts of campus a little drum and bugle band is starting up. I think they are gearing up for the big National Day celebrations on October 1st.

We leave for 6 days in Tibet on Sunday.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Calligraphy Study in Chengdu

Becky studying calligraphy at Guan Xihua's apartment. See the big stone ink well and other accesories.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Hello from Chengdu: The Tao of Discovery.

We arrived at our destination at Sichuan University one week ago. Since then we have been learning our way around, finding food that Clara will eat, and relying on Greg's considerable Chinese vocabulary to get things done. It is very humid here in the heart of Sichuan Province. But last night's wind and rain has brought a lower, more comfortable temperature.

Today we begin an assortment of classes taught by Chinese teachers. Katie will study Chinese language. Becky will study calligraphy. And all of us will learn Tai Chi two times per week. In fact, we are being measured today for proper Tai Chi tunics and trousers!

We hope to have internet access in our apartment tomorrow! This will allow us to use the laptop and attach photographs, etc. As for now, we go to one of the dark, smoky internet cafes outside the campus gates, but it's very cheap.--although all the prompts are in Chinese so that's a bit difficult sometimes. Also, all the letters have worn off the keys... Truly typing blindly, or in the blind. More soon.

The Froutz