By Matthew Travers
239 years ago, today, our founding fathers fought for and attained the sentiment that echoed through each of our minds as we sang on the bus ride to Wei You Shi Fu restaurant in Xiamen, China: “Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave… for the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Although most NSLI-Y students are accustomed to seeing this famous banner on Independence Day, we were instead met in Xiamen by the soaring dragon of the Qing Dynasty flag at Hu Li Shan Fortress (built in the second of the Qing Dynasty 1644-1911). As an American, it seemed strange to me that we were almost entirely alone in expressing enthusiasm and recognition for this significant day in our culture. However, these lyrics of our national anthem nonetheless rang true for us as we spent the day exploring and learning to understand the extensive culture of China. We were freely, although briefly, able to explore famous attractions in Xiamen, including the ornately decorated building complex of the Nan Pu Tuo Buddhist Temple, the defensive cannon and beach of Hu Li Shan Fortress, and the memorial to Tah Kan Kee, the founder of Xiamen University, at the Turtle Garden in Jimei. While braving through the heat and humidity native to Southern China on these excursions, we were still sun burned (somehow through all the fog!) as we visited and bartered with local Chinese shop keepers. After feasting upon the duck soup, famous to Wei You Shi Fu restaurant, at lunch, we finished our Independence Day celebration with a sea food buffet at an upscale restaurant. After returning to room 501 at the Cai Jing Jie International Students Dormitory, I immediately began preparing myself for our next journey at Xiamen!