Hello Everyone! Back at it with another weekly update!
This week we had our first taste of lectures and lessons here at ZJU, also had an opportunity to interact with some of the kids from 湖墅学校 and conducted some simple classes for them. During our free time, we went ahead and did some sightseeing at 乌镇 nicknamed “The Venice of the East”. Overall it was an exciting week that was filled new experiences.
On Monday, we had the introductory session to our DATE program here at ZJU. Us students were welcomed to the school and what to expect in the coming weeks. We were also tasked to present on the adventures that we had during our buddy day’s the previous week. What really surprised me was the system they used to initiate conversation on the topics. They setup a live chat that could be accessed by all the students and anything sent to the chat would be displayed straightaway on the screen. I was thinking, “Wow that’s pretty cool, its like a live twitch chat.” Its really quite intriguing the potential uses of that technology.
On Tuesday, some of us had the chance to visit 宁波方太厨具有限公司，Fotile, which is a company produces and innovates on kitchenware and kitchen equipment. The showed us both the production factory, innovations they have in the pipes as well as the history of some of their past products. It wasn’t my first time seeing a factory floor, but what caught my eye was the number of workers that were actually present during the production process. In the area that we were in, there were only around 4-5 hands on deck, the rest of the process was automated either by robotic arms or other heavy machinery. Furthermore, the company has a system in place to ensure that all the workers are well taken care of.
However, what impressed me the most, was the amount of innovation that they had on something as simple as kitchenware. Ranging from dishwashers that use only highly pressurized water to fully clean dirty plate and cutlery, to an IOT kitchen setup where all the equipment are able to communicate with one another in order to reduce effort and time spent on cooking. From a child safe stove which requires you to put a lock on the stove before you’re able to use it to a smart ventilator that detects when smoke levels are too high and automatically cleans the area, somethings that were once considered a hassle was simplified to make kitchen use all the more easier. It’s really amazing to truly see innovation at work, and its something that I feel during this trip I should try to do and experience more of.
During the week, we also had our first lesson. We were introduced to the concept of origami machines (折纸机器), kind of like bringing life to our standard origami creations. It really got our creative juices flowing to think of new designs for origami and the potential they have with movement. Overall, I feel like as design thinkers, we need to embrace creativity and keep continuously trying to draw inspiration from all places. For me, I spent most of the class trying to think of new ways to move the origami, which was pretty exciting.
On Friday, we had our first TFI trip to 湖墅学校，HuShu School, where we conducted baking and arts and craft classes for the students there. It was my first experience teaching autistic children and though it was a bit of a challenge trying to communicate with them (also with my limited chinese speaking ability), it was ultimately an extremely humbling and rewarding experience. It was mainly difficult to get them to be on task since most of them tend to lost focus after a short period of time, but seeing them express themselves with art and seeing the joyful expressions on their faces as they completed the task was extremely heartening. Another people that really desserve credit are the teachers. They are so full of patience and you can feel the passion for teaching in everyone of them, we might only conduct 1 short lesson, but they handle the kids day in and day out, not soemthing everyone can do. I really enjoyed spending time with the kids there, they’re so full of life and I can’t wait to see them next week!
Finally, at the end of the week, we took a sightseeing trip to 乌镇. Dubbed the “Venice of the East” it is a town surrounded by water, where people get around town mainly by boats in the olden days. However, it was renovated and revitalised as a tourist attraction, split into two sides East and West areas. We visited the East side where most of the olden day workshop exhibits were. We caught a glimpse of how rice wine, textiles were made and learnt a bit about the history of the Beijing–HangZhou Grand Canal. We also had the most amazing 东坡肉 I’ve had in my entire life. IT. WAS. DELICIOUS. We then moved over to the West side to soak in some of the scenery, looking at some of the waterways as well as the fields that they had during the olden periods.
Overall, the week was a rewarding one, being able to learn so many new things and meeting so many new people. Having some free time to go sightseeing was also a nice change in pace. Truly a 10/10 week.