One of the commitments Matt and I made to each other and to our then-future child when we decided to adopt from China was that we would pursue incorporating Chinese culture into our family’s life. From talking to and reading about the experiences of other trans-racial adoptees, we knew that our child, while fully part of our family, would experience the tension of living between two worlds. Raised with white parents in middle-class America, she would lose her ability to connect fully with the Chinese or Chinese-American communities, but neither would she fully experience life as a WASP. We want to do all that we can to help her navigate that reality. On top of that, we believe Chinese culture and history are fascinating, and knowledge and experience of them has so much to offer to us and to all of our children.
When we learned that the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, which normally has an exhibit focused on China and its culture, would also be hosting a temporary exhibit including some of the actual terracotta warriors crafted thousands of years ago in Xi’an, China, we were determined to make the trip. One weekend last September, we made it happen.
My brother David currently lives in Cincinnati, which is just a short trip from Indianapolis, so he was able to join us for the trip, which was an extra blessing. Even just the time at the hotel with him was a treat!
We enjoyed some time at the regular China exhibit.
We learned about the Chinese zodiac signs…
…and about Chinese characters and calligraphy.
The little market was one of the girls’ favorite parts of the day, and we went back there multiple times.
We also took a little bit of time to check out the museum’s dinosaur exhibits.
And then it was time for our entrance into the terracotta warriors exhibit! There was a short film about the terracotta warriors and their construction thousands of years ago and their discovery by local farmers in the 1970s, and then we were allowed into the exhibit. Matt spent some time studying and drawing this warrior.
One thing I was very impressed by was the way the exhibit communicated information about the warriors and their history but also made everything fun and interactive for children of various ages. Both Miranda and Madeleine CaiQun really enjoyed putting together this three-dimensional puzzle to build a replica of the kneeling archer.
We looked around at the various warriors…
…and then we were able to construct our own miniature warriors using clay and molds!
By the time we came through, a sizable army had already been constructed, and we added our figures to them.
Then the girls put on some armor, and we practiced making our fiercest faces and being defenders of the emperor.
We also enjoyed drumming, always a favorite activity, but especially with a large drum like this one!
As the girls were only four years old when we took our trip, I’m not sure they retained a lot of information about the terracotta warriors or from the main China exhibit. That’s not really our goal at this point, though. Obviously any pieces of information they pick up and can recall later are great. However, what is important to us right now is that we are creating a family culture in which we are continually pursuing learning and, in particular, learning about China and its culture. As our kids get older, I expect there to be more and more opportunities for that, but we’re thankful we were able to take advantage of this one when we had the chance!