Weekend trip to Mountain Lake in New Jersey – Day 2

My Sunday morning starts with playing with Benny. He is already 14 years old. Look at his eyes – full of gentleness and love

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Today’s breakfast!

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Went out to walk Benny and Milo with the hostess. Now I know that walking dogs is not that easy. They both are very strong. More often than not, they just drag me to run along.

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I noticed this beautiful scene while I was walking the dogs. Out of nowhere, my hometown Korla in Xinjiang (the Uygur region) came across my mind. The views are actually different in the 2 places – Xinjiang is a desert area and has no big green land, but they both look very spacious and you can barely spot the end of the horizon.

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Brunch time. The same rule: one family brings one dish.

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To possess eyes which can discover the beautiful thing is more valuable than to possess the beautiful thing itself.

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The program today is to make pumpkin lanterns. Halloween is coming. First, cut out the top of the pumpkin. You have to place the knife at a 45 degree angle , do you know why? (Don’t laugh at me my American friends – I know this is very junior level question to you-☺

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Then, find a pattern you like from the graphic book. Use a roller to transfer the pattern onto the pumpkin. The roller reminds me of the roller used for clothing pattern cutting – they share the exact same theory.

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You can tell from this procedure who often cooks, and who does not. I did not even touch the pumpkin and was just taking photos. My mom always wonders how I have managed to feed myself in all these years when I am travelling.

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This is a professor in Department of International Relations at Shanghai Tongji University. He ‘suffered’ a while to cut out the pattern. Easier said than done. The pumpkin skin is so thick…

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The pattern cut out by the professor and the young girl. None of us knows what this pattern actually represents?

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Blue sky, warm sun, green trees and the golden autumn leaves, plus a group of energetic friends from all over the world – can you feel my happiness? I almost fell asleep in the warm sunshine!

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This is what the finished pumpkin lanterns look like.

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The little girl – Biyan’s mother is only 5 years older than me. Well! C’est la vie!

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With another 2 Fulbrighters!

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Always look at the bright side – Some Thoughts on China and Chinese Fashion Industry

The organizer of the Brazilian conference says they would like to know why Chinese fashion industry develops so fast. No one expected China would have her own fashion 20 years ago. A friend asked me a similar question – why China made such dramatic change in the past 30 years? What a big question! What I found from my conversations with my Chinese friends and international friends is they often focus on different side of the same story. From the China side, all I hear are corruption, dictatorship, air pollution, poisoned food, hopeless education and blablabla. But what I often hear from my overseas friends are the inconceivable changes that China has made in past 30 years. China is the only country that made such great achievement without undergoing any severe political unrest.

When I was 19 years old, my boss told me that one often sees the bad side of the system when he is IN the system. But when he looks at the system from OUTSIDE of the system, he often discovers the good side of the system. So staff often finds the merits of his previous company when he changes his job, or notices in fact his previous boss is better than the current one; a man may find his ex is better than the new one (hopefully not)… Just like people often complaint a lot of our own home countries, and find other countries seem better than our own. The point is – no one is perfect, it all depends on which side you are looking at. Life is short – a way to make ourselves happy is to always look at the good side. (Apparently it does not mean we shall neglect the problems)

New York, New York (1)

Started a new journey in the Big Apple! This was a show for graduate students of Fashion and Society at Parsons. Parsons is one of the best fashion institutions indeed – most of these graduates’ designs are good enough to enter the market. Their works show strong personal styles but are also very practical; they can just wear their designs to go to work/school! lol

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An interesting course at Parsons: learning how to critically coment on fashion design through the study of literature. They learn about how writers contruct the meaning of something, say, cigarrete. A cigarrete has a short life because it will be thrown away immediately after use; usually, cigarrete users also have a relatively shorter life. Meanwhile, cigarettes are companions to the smokers; they make the smokers feel warm and bring a sense of security, especially when people are alone at night. Cigarette is also a way of socializing, particularly among men. Some become friends by asking for a light. The brand of cigarette can signal certain social class.
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An excellent writer can construct numerous meanings out of a single piece of cigarette. The same goes for fashion design. Being a fashion commentator is analyze the stories behind a design in a unique and multi-demensional perspective. It is not about how the designers create it, but how the viewers understand it. An excellent design needs no words to express itself – it resonates with the audience at heart.
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American Chinese fashion designer exhibition in New York. Jason Wu, who was shot to fame after designing dresses for Michelle Obama
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Jade lai. I never heard of his name before…
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Derek Lam’s work
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Anna Sui’s sketch
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Vivienne Tam‘s work
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Peter som
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Zong toi’s work. Knitwear
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Vera Wang’s gown
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Adventures in Israel (3)

Dead Sea Scrolls was in Qunram, which became one of the most important archeological discoveries in the 20th Century! This discovery shocked the world and improved the accuracy of when the earliest Bible was stored — even before Jesus was born. The scrolls were completely in pieces when they were discovered, some were burnt into ashes, and they took tens of archeologists more than tens of years to sort out the materials — what a vast project! Even more amazingly, the Hebrew scrolls were almost the same as the version of Bible we read today. I’m sure the servants of God were almost extremely careful with their work when documenting His words.
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Synagogue in Chorazin. Chorazin has also left frequent remarks in the Bible. For example in Luke 10:13, “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.” Synagogue was like the church for Christians; it is where people gathered for a meeting.
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Bedouin tents in the desert. As a nomadic people, the Bedouins live by the side of camel in desert. They have an intimate relationship with the camels: the man in the picture built a new house in the city for his father, but his father just couldn’t get used to living in a room and decided to let the camels live there instead, while he returned to live in the tents built for camels.
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While we were listening to the tour guide talking about the history and culture of Bedouin, this man silently served tea and snacks for us. I wished to say thank you through eye contact but our eyes never met – he was just doing his job with his head bent. It felt like we were not in the same world; he probably felt like he had been constantly ignored by the tourists and would never receive attention from anyone. He probably felt like he was just an invisible person. How empty were his eyes. There are people in this world who just haven’t received the attention and respect that they truly deserve!
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Biblical garden, sponsored by a Finnish couple. This place is now a center of Biblical translation. In the WWII, 8 Jews came to Finland seeking help. The Finnish government first decided to provide protection, but was later threatened by the Nazi. These 8 Jews did not escape from a cruel slaughter, and the Finnish people built this garden to express their regret…
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Wailing Wall and Temple Mount. Wailing Wall is really a place where you can see people wail. The women prayers all look like they are in griet, and some are weeping silently. There are separate spaces for men and women – men on the left side while women on the right side. The crevices of the wall were filled with small pieces of paper, which were left there by prayers. I was curious about what people would write, but it would be a sin to invade others’ privacy. It was rude to God if you walked out with your back to the wall, so you must walk backward…
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Adventures in Israel (2)

A wooden boat from 1st Century (found in Galilee) and the Museum of Fishing. Back then, fisherman is a quite decent occupation, and there were actually some people who worked in the fishing industry in the first disciples of Jesus. It must be a lot courageous to make such a decision – giving up the old job, stepping out of comfort zone and just following one’s faith in Jesus. But the Fisherman Peter didi it, and he was one of the most loyal servant of Jesus.

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Port Herod, where the fishermen used to work back in the 1st century, including Peter.

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A bird view of Galilee and some restaurants nearby…

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The Court of King Hazor, built between 1300s – 1400s BC. The style was strongly influenced by Northern Canaanites — set foundation in wooden and was assisted by stones and clods. The Court was burnt to the ground by the Israelite, as recorded in the Bible Joshua 11:10-13. Many people think Bible is a book of myths and metaphors, but if you read carefully it is actually a history book. God nominated tens of writers to complete the Bible, and this book contains numerous wisdom from the history of human civilization. The writers were born into different times and backgrounds, but they wrote as if they were one person. Our Almighty God!
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The headstream of Jordan, which left its remarks for several times in the Bible. How lucid the river is!
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Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was said to have taken place here, but it is yet to be confirmed by the archeologists. Now this place has become a Catholic church, invested by Mussolini. How surprising – or was he trying to find some comfort to conceal the his guilt?
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Ancient ruins from Pan the Samaritan. The ancient Israelites used to worship the fake God for several times in history, which annoyed Jehovah. Now there are only some gravels and niches on the hill. From the fifth picture we might have a glance at the magnificent ancient architecture…
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Adventures in Israel (1)

Starting a trip to Israel. For most Chinese people, Israel is a land of mystery. I was mostly concerned with safety issues before I left for this country. My team chose to travel via EL AL Israel Airline because it was the only flight that went straight to Israel. My first reaction was, would it really be safe to travel on this airline, run by a country with great political sensitivity? My mind even wandered to the potential threat of missiles. However, my experience completely changed my opinion of the Israel Airline. Having gone through the most careful scrutinization and strict procedures before flight took off, I was convinced that they are definitely one of the safest airlines in the world!

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The Sea of Galilee! It is one of the most important places in the Bible; many events involving Jesus took place here. I was surprised to see that the “Sea” was actually more like a lake. Later I met a translator of Bible, from whom I learned that in Hebrew the place was originally named as a lake rather than sea. Translating is a great challenge, especially from Hebrew because this source language contains many words that have multiple meanings, and it is hard to find equivalents in the target language. The Christian translators around the world have taken great pains in interpreting His words, and they have been so careful not to misinterpret anything. But variation in meanings is unavoidable in translation because of the differences across cultures. So we must learn more about the Jewish language, history and culture to understand things from the Bible.
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Church of Annuciation, Nazareth, Israel. It was built in commemoration of Immaculate Conception reported by Gabriel to Maria — His Son is to be born! The earliest building here is a church built in the 1st Century, and the historical foundation of the church can still be found there. Later the church has been rebuilt for three times, and the one we see right now is from the mid-20 century. On the walls and doors are painting of the stories of Jesus. Paintings of Maria and Jesus from different churches are preciously stored there.
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Where the Jews lived in 1st century. Nazareth. In the old days, the Jews lived underground, and the whole family would sleep on the floor in the center of the room. Inside the room were food storage and livestocks, because according to the Jewish tradition, the precious things should be placed deeper inside the room. This explains why, when someone came at the door to borrow from food in the Bible, the owner would answer “my family were already in sound sleep”, meaning that it would be inconvenient to fetch the food, because he would have to walked past his family and probably disturb their sleeping.
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The Jewish churchyard built in the 1st century. Notice that outside the cemetery, the stones are round. This explains why the verb “rolled” was chosen in Bible when talking about the door of cemeteries. For example, in Mark 15:46, “And he got a linen cloth and, taking him down, put the linen cloth round him, and put him in a place for the dead which had been cut out of a rock; and a stone was rolled against the door.”
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More pictures of the Church of Annunciation, Nazareth
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Is this cross much smaller than you have imagined? At least I think so. There are many different kinds of cross, and the shapes of a cross changes the process or time of death. Most crosses are not as big as we have imagined, and the prisoners were at the eye level of passers-by so as to reinforce the power of authority. Of course, Jesus made sacrifice for us, and his blood washed off our guilt; we could enter the holy Heaven because of Him.
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Jewish lifestyle during the 1st Century. Jesus was born into a family of carpenters. Imagine the young Jesus doing carpentry for his father… Women usually took charge of some handwork. Also, sheep-farming and grape vine planting played an important role in Jewish people’s life. That is why Jesus frequently uses grape vines as part of his metaphors when he enlightens people.
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Exploring Morocco (2)

A “blue town” in Rabat! The navy blue and snowy white worked perfectly together and created a breathtaking scenery. With little influence from the outside world, this town has kept medieval styles and traditions in some ways. The meandering lanes leads me toward tranquility, allowing me to escape from the noises and crowds in the city. I sauntered along the lanes, and ran into an aged Muslin man with long beard – oh how I enjoyed this small town!
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The Moroccan people attach great importance to the decoration of their doors, the same way Chinese people do to the decoration of their house. To the Moroccans, it’s ok to have an ordinary-looking house, except for the door! Almost every door I saw was well designed and decorated.
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While the European and American girls usually prefer to have a tattoo on their body, the Moroccan girls prefer to decorate their hands~~
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Enchanting were the nights in Rabat. Under the dim street lamp, I wandered along the quiet lanes; an aged Muslin man walked by, and occasionally a few boys ran by, playing soccer. I felt like I took one step into quietness, another step into noisiness; one into history, another into modern society; one into ethnic features, another into fashionable elements…… Finally I reached the center of the city square, a world bustling with excitement, and I was surrounded by crowds and noises.
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Exploring Morocco (1)

Morocco is a relatively conservative country in the Muslin world. When we were sauntering on the streets at night, we surprisingly found that only men were enjoying a cup of tea and chatting with each other in the square. We felt hundreds of eyes staring at us as we passed by, and it just made all of us so uneasy……

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Morocco international bazaar, which reminded me of the Yiwu Small Commodities Market in China. To any outsider, it seemed to be a messy place; to the peddlers, they were quite used to this world full of diverse languages, skin colors and odors. A noisy and colorful world. I was most impressed with the embroidered slippers made of artificial leather and the concave leathered cushion, because I found them in almost every shop. Do you know what they are for?

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Rabat is the capital city of Morocco. I enjoyed walking along these lanes with bolarious walls on their sides~ Just watching a ray of sunshine over the top of the walls, as a veiled woman in grey robe walked by…… so tranquil, heartwarming, and exotic.

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There is no luxurious hotel in the city; rather, it’s most famous for the home stays — small but fragrant places. Morocco was once a French colony, so there are many descendants of French people in the country.

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