Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Whole New Experience (Entry 12)

Day 12 (January 11)
On our last day in Xian, our plans had to change slightly as a result of the H1N1 virus. We had planned to visit Northwestern A&F University to discuss global agriculture with the students, but because there was a case of the virus at the school, we were unable to visit. Instead we went to Xinfandi Corporation, an agricultural facility with the most innovative and advanced technology in the Chinese agriculture industry in China. Sounds impressive! (Or so we thought) When we arrived, our buses had to park about a mile away from the facility because the roads were not suitable to drive on. As we walked up, all I could see were greenhouses, not stainless steel greenhouses with advanced computer technology, just basic tarp-covered greenhouses. They were literally mounds of dirt built up just enough to walk into. The most innovative technology at this farm was rolls of plastic that rolled down automatically from the top of the greenhouse when the weather got cold.
The FFA Creed says the words “I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life…” I believe that one of the best traditions in American agriculture is progress. Each and every day we make advances in agricultural technology. We invent bigger and better equipment and crops that have larger and safer yields. This is what makes American agriculture so strong. In China, the agriculture industry is content with the technology that has been around for 20-30 years. Only recently did the Chinese people realize the need for progress. Because they are home to nearly 20% of the world’s population, it is essential that Chinese agriculture begin to make advancements. America also has much better living conditions than China. We had the opportunity to visit the home of one of the owners of Xinfandi Corporation. His home was much nicer than others in the area yet it still had no heating, cooling, or indoor plumbing. We also noticed that the homes did not seem to be built practically either. There was very little insulation in the home and all floors were tile. The owner said that this was because comfort was at the bottom of the list of priorities for the Chinese people. He said that honoring his country and providing for his family came first. Because we rarely have to work about our basic needs in America, we often put too much emphasis on being comfortable. I feel very blessed to have food, clothing, and shelter, but by seeing the lifestyle of others, I can now appreciate the other luxuries I have been blessed with. Before wrapping up our time in Xian, we had to make one more stop, The Wild Goose Pagoda. The Wild Goose Pagoda is a famous Buddhist monastery. On our tour of the monastery, we were able to see the artwork of the monks and climb to the top of the 7 story pagoda. I was puzzled to see a swastika symbol on many of the Buddha statues. This is because long before Nazi Germany used the symbol, it meant luck and prosperity in the Buddhist religion. My favorite part of the Wild Goose Pagoda was its close proximity to a Dairy Queen. Thankfully, we had time to stop by Dairy Queen and satisfy my sweet tooth before heading back to the hotel.

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