Author: Maia Moore
Program: Hangzhou Study Center – China
I had the privilege of visiting a Buddhist nunnery/university. We did many different activities at the nunnery. First, we took a tour of the compound. We saw many different temples. While at the temples, we saw people coming to pray to the different Buddhas. This was my first time visiting a Buddhist nunnery. Actually, it was my first time visiting a nunnery at all.
For our second activity, we walked to the male part of the university. There, we participated in a 30 minute long chanting session. I wasn’t really sure what we were saying or what exactly what we were doing but it was interesting.
One of the final things that we did was eat with the nuns and the monks. This experience was extremely interesting to me because we ate completely in silence while others came around and passed out the food (rice, a variety of vegetables, and soup). If you wanted a dish, you left your bowl to the edge of the table. If you didn’t want any, you moved the bowl closer to you.
This way of eating is entirely different from the typical way I have witnessed Chinese people dine. Typically, there are a great variety of dishes, that have lots of spices and there’s a lot of noise and everyone shares. At the nunnery, we were all silent, with small individual bowls and the food was very bland. It was very different. I’m glad that I was able to experience another side of Chinese culture while I was here.