Sundays in Beijing are never boring. Even in temperatures of nearly zero degrees, Beijingers can be found playing, singing or doing calligraphy in the gardens surrounding the palaces and temples.
Seeing this for themselves was a truly magical experience for our IIL students, who visited the Chinese capital on Sunday, 8th February.
In the wintery light, a cold wind blew, chilling the bones and separating the clouds from the pollution. It had already been a long day for the IIL delegation, having landed at Beijing capital International Airport at 5 am that morning from Zurich.
The first afternoon visit of the Celestial Temple had just finished. The visitors dispersed into the gardens from where they were attracted to the sound of lively music, a mixture of Chinese disco and rock. A dance floor was set up next to the music where smiling, agile and welcoming men and women of all ages moved to the music.
Our students, quickly forgetting their long flight and jet lag, were gently invited to join into this cultural and generational experience. In no time at all, dance moves were being improvised and a battle ensued between a seventy year-old and our most daring IIL students to the amazement of all present.
Soon it was time for the IIL delegation to rejoin their bus but the tone of the trip had been given: be open to the discovery of a culture with its different and often welcoming customs.
Our students experienced many other beautiful moments during their visit to Beijing but the dancers of the Celestial Temple gave the most pertinent meaning to the concept of international education. The naturalness with which our European and African students joined in the dance with local Chinese who were several decades older than themselves, sums up the spirit of openness and promise of all those who work for the second “I” in “IIL”.