Maria Holland

China Day 5 – The University of Tulsa Does Not Condone Climbing Into Poo Vats . . .

In Public, Uncategorized on May 28, 2007 at 12:05 pm

At 6:30, we headed out to Jessie White’s farm. We got to see his horses and facilities, then investigated his broken wind turbine. After a lot of looking (in the very cold, wet outside), we left with 1 1/2 turbines. We took his generator to fix, and he gave us a smaller one that he had never put up.


God’s pretty awesome like that . . . And it gets better!

We followed Zaibin and Jessie to a nearby village, where there was a woman who had a wind turbine like the one we had just gotten. It was pretty awesome, because she lived ridiculously close to Hunchun’s coal burning plant, and high-voltage lines ran right by her house, but she was off the grid! She used the electricity generated by her turbine to power her tiny light bulb, TV, and DVD player. It’s pretty much exactly what we hoped to do!


Right before we left her house, Timothy decided to buy three geese. The lady (known to posterity as ‘Goose Lady’) grabbed them by the necks and tied them up in a bag, which went into the back of the ‘Chicha’ (Timothy’s truck). We all loaded back up, sitting in the seats we had been in before – with Tanner in the back. With the geese. It wasn’t long before we found out that geese just happen to be Tanner’s worst fear.


It was about this time that Jesse said pretty much the thing you would least like to hear when trapped in the back of a truck with a bag full of geese:

“Be careful – if they get out, they bite!”

Of course, that inspired John Alan to find a hole in the bag, pull out a goose head, and let it have at Tanner (well, almost). Fortunately, through that traumatic experience, Tanner was able to overcome his fear. We’re thinking about patenting this treatment. We would call it ‘Zhong Guo Sanga Cha Therapy’ – put the patient in the back of a Chinese truck with a bag full of three of their worst fears and let them get over it. We all shared our worst fears – Jesse said man-eating lions, Amanda spiders . . . I said gorgeous men. Timothy said I was out of luck; there weren’t any in China. The situation led to a joke:

“So 6 American and 3 geese are riding around China in a truck . . . “

The only problem is, we don’t know the punchline. Feel free to submit suggestions!

Anyway, after that moment of levity, we went back to the farm, where we put the windmill together, took ‘before’ pictures, and took it apart. While we were doing that, the cat had kittens! Things like that happen on farms in the spring, or so I’m told.


Lunch at the cafeteria consisted of ‘old favorites’, nothing unusual or disgusting. Unfortunately, the meal was ruined for me when juice from a passing fish tray was spilled on my pants. Looks like we all faced our worst fears that day (Amanda had to reach into things that had spiders in them).

After that traumatic lunch experience, we went out near Hunchun to see a biogas digester in a greenhouse.  A biogas digester is a concrete-lined pit in the ground that accepts manure and water (left) and produces methane (middle) and excellent fertilizer (right)


The man who owned it was Korean, so he spoke through Chunji, who translated into Chinese, and then Timothy, who translated into English for us. There was a brief misunderstanding about releasing straight methane into the greenhouse, in which he was smoking, but we got that cleared up pretty quickly.


The 8 cubic meter tank was supplied by one cow and it powered one methane lamp in the greenhouse, and cooking and lights in the house. Jesse said that its efficiency could be greatly increased by adding more water, cleaning the gas, heating the mixture, and stirring it, all of which we plan to do when we build one.


We visited another biogas digester next. This one had recently been built and was unused (or so we were told, at least). We were presented with the amazing opportunity to climb down into it – keep in mind, this is literally a poo vat, a hole that was dug with the intent to fill it with manure and waste.  It gives new meaning to the Psalms :

“I waited, I waited for the Lord
and he stooped down to me;
he heard my cry.
He drew me from the deadly pit,
from the miry clay.
He set my feet upon a rock
and made my footsteps firm.” (Psalm 40)

We got to go in as if we were poo, and visit the tank where the methane is released. It was a classic picture moment – good thing for flashes, because it was absolutely and completely dark down there.


I was worried about climbing out, so John Alan gave me a boost up, and two guys on the ground grabbed my hands and pulled. It was surprisingly easy . . . until I got clotheslined across the face with one of the strings that was holding the plants up.

It was around this time that the running joke of the trip began. Jesse was sharing with us some of the knowledge from his class at the Global Education Center. For instance, the University did not want us exposed to starving people because it could cause psychological damage. There was a long list, starting with ‘scooters’, of things that the University did not condone. Of course, we could choose to do do these things at our own risk, using our free will as adults. Anyway, we started a list of our own and added to it throughout the rest of the trip. Here it is in its entirety:

The University of Tulsa Does Not Condone . . .

– riding a scooter
– climbing into poo vats
– climbing on piles of rusty metal
– using cigarette butts to st
op gas cans
– smoking in a greenhouse full of gas
– riding in the back of a truck whose doors are secured only by bungee cords
– peeing on Russia
– driving in Hunchun
– leaving your wallet in a Chinese taxi
– impersonating a Russian soldier
– investigating poachers and ginseng squatters
– drinking snake liquour
– eating fish eyes, cow stomach lining, chicken heart, pig feet skin, or lamprey
– walking diagonally across a 6 lane intersection
– welding and spray painting simultaneously in the same garage
– standing in the middle of a field holding a 10-foot metal pole in the middle of a thunderstorm
– welding in a barn full of hay
– keeping a pet tick
– using a squatty potty with no toilet paper
– cooking with coals on a wooden table
– being sold into white slavery
– riding a bike in the middle of the road at night in dark clothes with no reflecters
– staying up past 9
– walking back from Teyan alone at night
– cutting cheese with toenail clippers
– showering with a Chinese watch on
– eating MSG
– stealing sharp pointy objects
– waving down strange cars at night on the side of the road
– smuggling munitions out of China

. . . Any attempt to do so is done at the student’s own risk, under their free will as an adult.

Note: We didn’t do all of these things, but I believe that almost all of them were done. I’ll leave it up to your imagination to figure out which ones we did do . . . but, no students were harmed in the making of this list.

In the evening, we did some more shopping in Hunchun. I didn’t feel pressured to buy anything, though, because I plan on going back next year. The others went to Woo-Mart (Chinese Wal-Mart). We met up at a different stick restaurant. We all liked this one better – tastier meat and delicious fried rice. I ate 11 sticks this time (one less), and Ian doubled, eating 28.

What with a shower, Evening Prayer, the Novena, video watching, journaling, and reading, Amanda and I stayed up past 10:30!! We felt like big girls.

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