Today we went to go see the pandas! It was a hot day but we didn't let that stop us from having a great time. Unfortunately, we could not take a selfie with the pandas because it was crowded but we thought it would be great to have a photo of both of us since we are roommates. It's been a great first week so far! We look forward to learning and seeing more of Chinese culture! ⁃ Jana & Laura
We started off the day early going to Chengdu to see the pandas! It was probably one of the hottest and most humid days since we've been here, but definitely worth the sweat. The park itself was immense, and full of inclines, which we were not expecting. So we definitely got a small workout while we were there. One of the coolest things we saw was one of the panda delivery houses, where they have cubs and newborns! It was really cool seeing a baby panda in an incubator, the size of a tv remote. We later went to a vegetarian restaurant for dinner to celebrate my birthday along with Dr. Smith's, where we had the most amazing Chinese dishes. We were even served a free, traditional noodle soup that Chinese people eat for their birthday. We finished off our day by going to karaoke! We ended up getting a large, private room, which was perfect for our big group and sang the night away! It was a blast :)
Our first day at the new kindergarten, we were pretty anxious because we knew the kids were smaller and didn't have as much English as the kids we were used to working with and had gotten so attached to. So our first day at DeYang, we had kids between the ages 2-3 who barely spoke English and were extremely shy. During our lesson, we kept really high energy and did lots of singing and dancing and improvised on the spot, making adjustments as we went. It worked well because they opened up in no time!! It was such a rewarding feeling seeing the kids light up and open up and participate as we were teaching! They ended up being one of my favorite group of kids we worked with too :) --Diarra
This week our team had the opportunity to teach at a brand new school that opened recently. We are so excited to teach children that are so enthusiastic and excited to learn from us. The class that we taught were from ages 3-4yrs old and they were so sharp. We had such a great time engaging with the children and can't wait to meet more of the students at Deyang preschool! Working with children in a foreign country has been the most incredible experience we have had so far! These children are enthusiastic and determined to learn something new every day. We are humbled by how much of an impact we make in their lives, yet the most amazing thing is that they are the ones impacting our lives the most! - Joe & Laura
Just as we are hitting the two week mark, a few people in our group have fallen ill. Some more so than others. First it was Andrew with a cold, then Celeste with food poisoning, and the newest edition was me with an allergic reaction to a bug bite. At first, I didn't think anything was wrong as most of my bug bites swell up larger than normal. However this time was different, all day the professors and other students in the cohort stared at the welt on my leg in shock, asking me "Wow are you okay?" I kept answering, "Yep perfectly fine!" Not worried, I hopped on the bus with everyone to Deyang for the day. As we arrived to the preschool I started to feel like maybe I wasn't okay. That's when a feverish, dizzy, and disoriented feeling took over me.
As someone who is used to extremely long and painful visits to urgent care/the ER in the United States (most times struggling to find coverage to pay for care and medication), I wasn't too excited to say "I think I need to go to the hospital." But after a phone call with my mother, I decided it was the best option for my health. To my surprise, the whole process was unbelievably easy (and cheap) thanks to all the help from Dr. Duh and local Chinese school official Johnson. Surprisingly, the whole process only took 3 hours and I costed 153.6¥ (equivalent to about $22) for the visit and perscriptions-- which included about 5 different pills and 1 topical solution. Although visiting the hospital is such a painless process, I hope no one else has to pay another visit to the hospital during our trip! - Symphony Wren :)
It was so exciting to have the opportunity to perform as a pirate for the children. Putting the costume together was a collective effort from many in our group. Andrew donated a white button down shirt and boots. Symphony donated a bandanna. Ben donated pants and socks. Dr Paik donated a scarf. Rachel was amazing at doing the makeup and donated an earring and scarf. Dave from the school donated the pirate hat. John was brilliant as the dueling pirate.
Just like that the pirate costume came together, ready to entertain. The children were seated with great anticipation and out came pirate Joe! Seeing the smiles and look of surprise on the children's faces was everything. Then out popped pirate John to protect his treasure! The two pirates dueled and pirate Joe was victorious. Then pirate Joe asked the children to help him find the treasure. The children were so excited to play treasure hunt and ran around the playground looking for treasure. This experience was so awesome and I couldn't have asked for anything more! -Joe
Initially I thought that a pillow fight with 24 kindergarteners would surely end in about half of them crying and/or going crazy with power. However, it turned out much better than I expected. There was little to no crying and surprisingly only the parents went crazy with power! At first I stood back and simply watched them as they giggled and chased each other across the field, but once I grabbed a pillow and finally got involved I too could not stop. It was truly a fun and creative way to get all the parents and children to loosen up and engage in an activity that all could enjoy. Though I don't know if I would try it with my class at home, it will forever be one of my favorite moments of this trip thus far. - Celeste
Today, our whole group went to go visit the Lesha Giant Buddha! Stephanie and I are extremely grateful. We love to soak in different cultures, so we were both so very excited to be on this fieldtrip. We began the drive at around 8:30am, and the drive from our hotel to the Giant Buddha was about 3 hours. When we arrived, we went straight to lunch and the food was great! There was this Pork dish that was braised for what seemed like hours and it was so tender and delicious. When we got to the Buddha, there was a bit of a hike, but nothing too crazy. The sun was out, so the weather was especially hot today. When we finally got up to the Big Buddha, there was a huge line that wraps around to get to the bottom of the Buddha, so we decided to opt out of that and just took pictures near the top of the Buddha. It still was a fantastic view; the Buddha was so giant! This is a picture of us, Stephanie & I at the top of the big Buddha. This experience was so enlightening especially because we got to understand the Chinese Culture and the different art that is associated with the culture. After a long day of hiking, and sight-seeing, we finally got back to the hotel and ended our day with our usual small talks and face masks.
– Monique and Stephanie
Eating out for the first time proved to be a lot more difficult than we had originally expected. Ben, Joe, Andrew, Symphony, Jana, and I decided to venture off thinking, "let's try something new, it will be fine." Once we finally chose a place, we sat down and realized that nothing had an english translation and that none of the serves understood or spoke even a little bit of English. Thankfully, the servers worked together in order to find someone (another customer) who knew how to speak Cantonese and a bit of English. He so graciously came over to our table and helped us in the struggle of picking exactly what would go into the pot. After almost blindly choosing what we would eat we attempted to put everything in the pot, only to see their horrified faces as they chuckled at our ignorance. One of the servers proceeded to help us by making the sauce and delicately putting each piece of food into the pot for us. We were all amazed by their kindness and so at the end we wanted to give our server a couple of dollars extra, however, she would not accept it. She gave us our money back with a big smile and instead we decided to all take a group picture (as is commonly done in China). Though the experience of eating out on our own was a bit challenging, I will always remember their sweet demeanor and undying patience toward us. Thank you to the servers and all who have helped guide us along this crazy journey! - Celeste
This photo has so much meaning to me! I came to this country not expecting any sort of special treatment. Yet, here I am holding a stranger's baby. I am humbled and honored to have been granted such wonderful experience! This photograph means so much more than just holding a baby! It means that I had the opportunity to embrace and show the love I have for children! It also means that I was able to earn the parents' trust otherwise they wouldn't have trusted me with their baby. I am truly blessed to be learning about such beautiful culture! I hope this photograph lightens up your day just like this little girl lighten up mine! - Laura
This was our earliest morning of the trip as we all woke up in between 6-7am. After a quick breakfast, we headed to Southwestern University of Science and Technology also known as SWUST. We were met graciously by faculty of the university, took pictures, listened to their presentations, and engaged with them. It was a very dignified experience because we felt so honored to be there. Ms. Jenny took over the presentation by teaching us Chinese. We learned how to say Hi, How are you, My name is ____, and how to say goodbye. She was a phenomenal teacher who practices with each of us diligently and even had us practice with each other. The videos of us practicing are hilarious, entertaining, but also very helpful. After practicing our Mandarin, we wrote calligraphy. We practiced different strokes, different pressure points with each character, and learned different words. After many practice sessions, we each received rice paper and got to write our own characters and phrases. A lot of us learned to write our own names, the word forever, country, and other characters. After another extravagant lunch, we spent the afternoon hanging out with students at the University. First we marketing and engineering students who taught us about the art of paper cutting. The most exquisite piece of art had eight horses, all of which we cut to perfection and balanced together perfectly. Each of the students gave us goodie bags filled with other examples of paper cutting. Then we went to the play with robots in the technology center followed by going to the psychology center and playing games with the psychology students. When we arrived back into the city, we all decided to get milk tea and go to a fun entertainment area to play games. It was almost like a mini carnival and whatever the group did, there were always a crowd interested in us. Our group is so wonderful and it’s crazy to think all we’ve done together in such a short period of time.
After spending a weekend landing, settling in, and relaxing, this was our first day at our work. We arrive being greeted by the school with a banner, a beautiful opening ceremony in which the children even gave us flowers. The introduction was incredible and filled with excited energy and lots of momentum around our social emotional learning curriculums. After we were split up into groups and then we had a chance to observe a classroom environment, only in Chinese. The children displayed a warm energy counterbalanced with exceptional discipline. They were able to work independently and with groups, follow instructions, and stay engaged. The teachers were equally as impressive. They were able to float around to the different students to answer questions, do the activities with the students, and help them in whatever way possible. What was equally impressive was how quickly the children transitioned into group activities. There was one student who was still rolling up his mat while the group activity was starting. He took a little bit longer but rolled up his mat and joined the group. Throughout this entire time, the child stayed calm and was not concerned about falling behind. This to me was definitely the collective mentality instead of individualist mentality. I’ve recalled classrooms in which we wait until everyone, and then we participate in the group activity. After lunch we were informed that we would be leading a 15-minute demo presentation during the afternoon activity! Our group of 6 developed a fun handshake we can teach to the children, play a fun game of musical chairs, and teach them the idea of sportsmanship. We had to modify it a few times, but overall we had a solid plan. The handshakes were adorable and we met all 22 children in our class. Musical chairs was hilarious! We we’re concerned how the kids would react once they lost, but we ended up giving them a round of applause to make feel better. The sportsmanship activity was a little all over the place, but regardless a good plan. We left the school about 6:30pm, feeling very accomplished with our first day with the children. - Ben
So far the food in Chengdu has been amazing. We were so worried that there would not be enough options for us with our dietary restrictions. We even brought a suitcase full of snacks so we wouldn't starve!! However, the buffet we went to definitely left an impression. With pirates of the Caribbean theme, this buffet had everything from traditional Chinese hot pot to American comfort foods like fries. There was so much to look at, including giant pictures of Johnny Depp everywhere, and so many options, that we walked away feeling so happy and full! Not to mention, the owners of the buffet were performing karaoke while we were eating. Definitely left a great impression of the food and variety of the Sichuan cuisine. - Diarra and Symphony
Our first full day in China was amazing! We had a great time walking around the city and exploring a temple. I am personally so grateful to be in China with such a bright and creative group. I can't wait to see what is next! - Joe
written by Symphony Wren
i threw a coin in the fountain
where all the turtles were mounted
slow and steady wins the race they say
i watch them as they swim that way
when they hide in their shell
there is no way for me to tell
the wisdom that they keep to themselves
they wear their modesty so well
but when they do speak
i cant help but peek
i hope as i close my eyes
i hope someday that i can be wise
that i can be as humble as you
the turtles of Chengdu
We made it to Chengdu! We arrived at San Francisco International Airport on Thursday night at 11:00pm, anxiously awaiting the start of our journey. As we sit, we noticed that Klay Thompson, the shooting guard on our championship winning Golden State Warriors, was on the same flight as us. What a surprise! Our flight was long but fortunately most of us were able to sleep. We were pleasantly surprised with a delicious dinner of noodles, chicken, beef, or pork, followed by snacks and cup of noodles, and finishing with breakfast of stir fry noodles or eggs with bacon. We are greeted with an early arrival of 6:07am at Hong Kong with the sun rising on the horizon. After a morning of adventure, we head to our respective flights to Chengdu. Our flight was set to arrive at 12:55pm and the second group at 1:35pm. After a few delays, running into Klay Thompson and being welcomed with conversation and autographs, the first group arrived at 6:30pm with the second group not arriving until 11pm. Regardless of the delay, we were as upbeat as ever and ready for whatever adventure awaits. We are so excited to experience China, work with the eager and adorable children, and become acclimated to this amazing culture that surrounds us. Because of Klay Thompson and our perseverance, we are truly Travel Warriors!