Today we have all departed from the Southwest University of Science and Technology in Mianyang to the Chengdu International Airport. Many of us are extending their travels, while Marissa and I are headed back to San Francisco. As we are waiting for our flight, I cannot help but reflect on all of the experiences we have had in these past few weeks. This has been a incredible journey from start to finish, and each of us has grown in indescribable ways. The connections that we have made and solidified with each other throughout this trip have fostered teamwork, trust, perseverance, and support, and have created friendships that will continue far after our journey has ended.
Furthermore, throughout our weeks of teaching social and emotional learning curriculum to preschool- and primary school-aged children, we can really see the difference our curriculum is making in these children’s lives. At the end of our program, the children were much more willing to engage with us and practice some of the social and emotional learning skills they have learned in our program. It is incredible to see how much they have learned in such a short period of time. Social and emotional learning is an integral part of children’s development, and it warms my heart knowing that we have helped the children build a foundation that will impact the rest of their lives.
Aside from teaching, all of us have had the privilege of being immersed in Chinese culture. We have traveled throughout both Mianyang and Chengdu through bullet trains, subways, and busses, visiting incredible sites such as the Giant Buddha in Leshan, the Wide and Narrow Alleys, the New Century Global Center, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, the Luohan Temple, and the Yuewang Tower among other places. We also had so much fun exploring the street markets of Mianyang and eating fantastic Sichuan cuisine.
I am incredibly grateful for having had the opportunity to embark on this journey, and I am even more grateful for experiencing this trip with our amazing cohort. As a team we have overcome obstacles, experienced the wonders of Mianyang and Chengdu, and made a difference in children’s lives. I could not imagine a better way to spend my time in China, and I will remember this experience for the rest of my life.
- Julie C.