NYU Service Trip to Qianbai Yuan

OCA Photojournalist Kate Pellegrino documents her trip to Qianbai Yuan near Nanjing with the NYUSH Sustainability Department.

Nestled in the hills just south of Nanjing rests a small tea farm called 千百园环境教育基地. Sponsored by the NYUSH Sustainability Department, a small group of 10 students, led by Green Shanghai and NYUSH Professor Yifei Li, ventured to this remote destination to volunteer and experience environmental sustainability efforts in China.

The trip started bright and early with a 7:30am bus! After almost 5 hours on the road we were greeted by the coordinator of the tea farm who gave us a quick introduction to the village and walked us to our rooms.

The open sky was so huge and intensely blue in contrast to the seemingly endless green hills. We took a walk around the small village and saw a number of visitors enjoying a relaxing afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

We then enjoyed a light lunch and tea with our hosts. Tea was served frequently throughout the weekend and it was so good! It was sweet, refreshing, and left a light taste in the mouth.

Now it came time to do some work so we all headed down to the farm! We helped build a fence to protect the produce from the farm’s goats which roamed amongst the tea plants and helped with some of the gardening.

It then came time to collect some fresh bok choy and head back to base to begin preparing dumplings for dinner!

Naturally, our endeavors included a number of tea breaks.

Making dumplings was super fun. Everyone had their own unique style for making them leaving us with a pleasant mix! Our dinner also included hot pot.

The evening festivities involved a group karaoke session and some nighttime exploration before heading to bed, exhausted from the long day.

We were all so excited to see stars since we were in the countryside and away from city lights. However, as it turned out, the moon was so bright it blocked them from view anyway!

The next morning I got up early to see the sunrise. Although the hills blocked it from view, the sky itself was absolutely stunning.

In those early hours, the town was so quiet in contrast to the business of the day before.

That day, Sunday, we helped facilitate a number of nature and environment educational activities for a group of first and second graders. Their first activity was to build a small wetlands biome in a bottle.

We then went for a walk to explore some plants in the area.

After a quick lunch, we had a couple more hours to explore before boarding the bus for home. We ventured into the surrounding rows of tea plants and down into the local markets.

Altogether, this trip was not only a great learning experience and service opportunity, but a perfect chance to escape to the countryside for one weekend. The chill atmosphere and friendly company gave the impression that we’d been welcomed into a big family for the weekend!

This article was written by Kate Pellegrino. Please send an email to managing@oncenturyavenue.com to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Kate Pellegrino

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