Albiero dives into Chinese culture

By on September 8, 2008

By Catherine Laroche

Although he spent most of his time as the assistant coach for the Romanian swim team, Arthur Albiero, University of Louisville swimming and diving coach, simply couldn’t pass up the numerous tourist destinations that China had to offer.
“Certainly, if you like athletics I don’t know if there’s a better place to be than the Olympics,” Albiero said. “But the culture of China is something I didn’t know a lot about going into it, but I certainly came back much more intrigued. Everything I learned is very different than what we’re used to.”
Albiero had the opportunity to visit places students read about in history books, including The Great Wall of China, The Summer Palace and The Forbidden City.
“You realize how much history is involved in those buildings and how long they’ve been around,” Albiero said. “They’re very particular and detailed. I was really intrigued.”
The most surrealistic part of Albiero’s trip was visiting The Great Wall of China. Albiero spent most of his time there walking and climbing with a cable. He  said he spent the majority of his time at the Great Wall in the eight watchtower.
“The whole time I was there, I couldn’t get over the fact that it can go farther than your eyes can see,” Albiero said. “It’s one of those things that’s hard to comprehend. You hear about The Wall in high school, but to actually be there and experience it is different.”
Like many other people in the United States, Albiero loves to eat Chinese food. However, he said that the dishes in China and their American counterparts are very different.
To experience the Chinese culture, Albiero went to a Peking Duck restaurant in Beijing. A Chinese tradition is to slice a Peking duck in 108 pieces (eight being a good luck number in China); in which, each slice has a piece of meat and skin. Then, they slice the head and expect it to be eaten.
“I couldn’t do it,” Albiero said. “I’m open for trying a lot of different things, but I couldn’t eat the head of the duck. It just didn’t seem right. I like Chinese food, but what they eat there is not what we eat here. Even when I got back, my children were like “Did you get General Chicken?” They don’t have that.”
Albiero said another funny part from his experience was attempting to translate the Chinese language.
“One day for breakfast they had a little note by the breakfast buffet that said “Black fungus with green beans” and I was thinking ‘Black fungus? Why would anyone want to eat this?'” Albiero said.
“It was mushrooms. I understand that mushrooms are fungus, but I never read it before I would eat it. They really tried to have a bilingual approach to it. Some of their translations were very interesting and that was one of them.”
Whether it was visiting historic Chinese places or attempting Chinese delicacies, Albiero said he learned more about the Chinese culture as a tourist than he ever did sitting in high school history class.

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