Simi and I began our day by getting fried rice from our favorite street vendor for the very last time. On our way, we spoke about how sad we are to be leaving and how much we will miss the food and people we have met here. We then met with the rest of our group to go to the Closing ceremony. It was a long event from 2pm to 8pm, but a very beautiful and meaningful way to close off our time and work here with SWUST. During the ceremony, teachers, school officials, and students took their time to speak about our appreciation for each other and for the research everyone have come together to work so hard on. We all discussed how important this research is and how it will help children and change educational systems around the world.
Today was our last day in Miyanyang. Alana and I can not help but be so grateful for the entire team at SWUST and everyone who helped us achieve our goal of teaching SEL to the student here in China. After the closing ceremony we headed over for some dinner at the canteen. As this was our last night together we sat and laughed amongst ourselves and looked back on all the memories we made. After dinner we headed over to a cultural ceremony where we played different team building games and watched students from SWUST preform Chinese cultural music and songs. Then we headed over to KTV for some karoke as one last get together. We sang and danced our hearts out!
Today myself and 10 other students got to visit Chengdu and meet students from other schools, the students asked us about America and how it was academically when compared to the UK. We all sat down and had lunch together, unfortunately everything was meat except for some sweet noodles with numbing pepper. After we ate to the subway we went! For a lot of us it was our first time, we all joked about how we were back at home taking the bart but an upgraded bart. We arrived at the wide and narrow alley and were quickly split into groups amongst the students.
During our wandering Celeste and Alex suggested we play cards to kill some time until the face changing opera. Celeste taught Wendy and Nancy her favorite card game and quickly the excitement began. After some time we remembered that it was time to meet the others and say goodbye to our new friends. We sat front row for the opera and were amazed at the ever changing faces of the performers, and of all the different acts!
After the alley we all joined together for dinner and did shopping where some of the students bought matching Peppa the Pig Gucci shirts and looked for souvenirs! But honestly, today was a rough day for me and my anxiety, but the support and patience from my fellow cohort and professors made this rough day into a positive memory because I know that I have a support system not just at home but here as well.
- Cynthia G.
My smaller group met up with some SWUST students to take us to the temple in downtown Mianyang to see the sleeping Buddha. We got on the bus and a few minutes later we were at the temple! It was beautiful from start to finish, and the sun came out as soon as we got there! We walked around and admired the gorgeous statues and looked for souvenirs on our way to the sleeping Buddha. When we arrived at the sleeping Buddha, we saw that it’s head was under construction! We could still see the beautiful detail in the Buddha’s face, however. We made our way down the mountain and decided to do some shopping at the nearby mall! We hopped on the bus again and saw something called “The Museum of Broken Relationships”. We were all intrigued, and stopped to take a look. There were some cool photo ops on the outside, but in the interest of time we decided to keep heading towards the mall. We stopped at a Pizza Hut to get a quick bite, but to our surprise it was a very nice sit-down type restaurant! We ordered some appetizers and a small flatbread pizza (most of the pizzas were flatbread style). After our little meal, we arrived at the mall! It was five stories high and had a lot of familiar brands, such as Miniso, Adidas, and Nike. We also stopped at a couple of really cool unfamiliar stores! The mall had an entire floor dedicated to kids to play, and the fifth floor had an arcade! The roof had a lovely sunflower garden that we all admired. It reminded me of home. It was an eventful day, all in one area of Mianyang! It felt nice to return to the quieter part where our hotel is located, but we had a wonderful time downtown as well!
Our trip is coming to a close! Yesterday was our last day of teaching at SWUST. It was a bittersweet day, filled with smiles and goodbye songs. We are all quite exhausted from teaching all week so having today off has been amazing.
Ben, Celeste and I did not have the morning off, we woke up early and headed to Dong Chen, a pre-k to 12 boarding school here in Mianyang. Celeste and I taught a demo lesson to some children on the stage while parents watched, to get a sense of the curriculum we have been teaching at SWUST. After our class Dr. Duh, Dr. Paik and Dr. Rodriguez gave presentations and had a Q&A with the parents. I felt extremely honored to be a part of this demo and conference with the faculty. I remember last year coming to this school and feeling quite intimidated with the education system implemented. Last years conference was based mostly on learning about their school and them telling us how wonderful their school is. This year they were much more open, excited and accepting of our work and all seemed eager to work and learn from us as well. It was so great to be a part of this educational exchange.
As shanti woke up early for her demo lesson, I slept in! Our massages from the night before left many of us feeling very relaxed, and we enjoyed the day to sleep in. Many of us missed breakfast so we grabbed lunch around 1:00pm! Me and Hillary walked around the town for a bit and decided to grab delicious fried rice! We ran into Carolina and Juan who also got some fried rice and noodles! We had a good time and talked about how our last days are happening. We cant believe how fast our trip went and how much we are going miss all the kiddos we have worked with! We then walked around and did some shopping. We eventually made our way back to the hotel and decided to rest up before dinner. At 7:40pm Shanti, Hillary, Ben, Carolina and I decided to eat dinner at a A Korean barbecue restaurant! This place is one of my personal favorites is here. Although we don’t speak Chinese, the owner makes us feel very welcome even found an English speaker to help us order! Irene, our SWUST friend joined us as well! We enjoyed laughs over many entrées. Our bellies and our hearts were happy! After dinner we got some dessert near our hotel. We shared so many stories amongst each other and sharing our experiences of different cultures! The night ran pretty late and it was already 11pm! The night flew by so fast so we had to tell are friends goodnight as we have an early morning tomorrow in Chengdu!
I can’t believe today is our last day of teaching! Hillary and I woke up extra early today, at 7:20 instead of our usual wake up time at 7:40. We were buzzing with excitement and as Hillary got ready, I reflected on what a wonderful experience it has been to teach these kids. Anyways, of course, even when waking up on time, we were scrambling around at 7:59 to make sure we had everything before we all met up at 8:00. We got down to the lobby and we were all there in our SFSU Psychology Study Abroad shirts ready to take on our last day!
As soon as we got to the preschool, it was just busy chatter, talking to the translators about our lesson plan, checking in with partners, and making sure all our materials were there. I had my lesson plan ready with my partner Simi and we kept saying “Wow I can’t believe it’s our last day, it went by so fast!” And it really did. The morning session flew by, as so did the afternoon session. Before we all knew it and we could process it, we were done teaching. What a wonderful experience it was and something that I know all of us will never take for granted. After teaching, the professors had told us that there would be a Spa Day!! I was so nervous because I’ve never had a massage and I’m so ticklish but nevertheless I signed up to go.
As we said our last goodbye to elementary school and took our last group picture about 12 of us headed to our spa appointments. At 4:30 the entire group got in the cars and we all headed to downtown Mianyang. Once we arrived, we were all in love with how nice the spa was and everyone’s excitement grew more. We were split into smaller groups of 4 to 5 per room. I was in a room with Alana, Salima and Simran and Carol was in a room with Shanti and Jesse. In my room once we arrived we were all amazed in how the room was setup and we quickly prepared. Soon after staff entered our room to setup projector and provide us with a delicious tea and watermelon. All four of our masseuses’ entered our room and we all began our treatment while we got our massages we decided to watch the movie South Paw on screen. Midway through the massages the staff came to refill our tea provide new watermelon and came in with noodles and wontons. Once my group finished our treatments we were moved to another room and listened to music while we waited for everyone else to finish.
When we all met outside in the lobby everyone looked relaxed and before we left we took a picture with the staff and said goodbye. It’s safe to say this treatment was very much needed after a hard working week we all put for the children. Once we all arrived to hotel a group of us headed to get food and snacks and Alana, Simran, Jesse, Shanti, Ben, Carol, Salima and I ended the night playing card games. Even though this week consisted of a lot of work I’m glad we were able to make great memories with the children and teach them the importance of Social Emotional Learning. I’m sad that this experience came to an end but am glad I was able to do this experience with this cohort. I am excited for the next few memories to come on this trip!
-Hillary and Carolina
Celeste and I had a hard time waking up in the morning. We both weren’t feeling well, but we pushed through getting ready for the day. I taught my lesson that morning to a cute little bunch while Celeste walked around observing many different classrooms. After morning lessons, A few of us went to the canteen to get their amazingly good wonton soup! They give you a hefty portion of wontons and then you can choose from two types of soups and add spicy sauce, vinegar, salt, and pepper. We all headed back to the hotel and rested up a bit. Ben and I played cards while Celeste was looking through the wonderful teaching videos she had taken of some of our cohort teaching. Afternoon classes happened and nerves from Shanti, Ben, and Celeste were a bit high as they were about to demonstrate a lesson to parents so they were aware of what our purpose is for their kids.
The demonstration came and went faster than I thought it would. I was incredibly nervous but having our students there and seeing the parents’ reactions immediately eased my fears. It was an impactful experience and great preparation for the demonstration on Saturday. After the demo, myself and a group of others went out into the beautiful and bustling streets of mianyang. We shopped, ate, and wandered around in amazement of the surroundings that we have come to know so well. I left the group early to get some dinner, which consisted of the best fried rice I have ever had! As I was walking back I realized, as if for the first time since this trip started, that I am china and that this is an incredible gift. I walked back in complete bliss and met sydney back in the room. The rest of the night was spent talking, laughing, and bonding with the new friends I have gained on this trip. Sydney and I were in bed ready to sleep but continued talking only to realize that we had stayed up until 1am. We fell asleep happy to have had a beautiful day of exploring and bonding.
-Celeste and Sydney
Today, I learned to be very flexible and extremely adaptable. As my partner and I were walking into the classroom to teach our translator was called by a professor to her help with translating last minute due to unforeseen circumstances. This meant we had no translator while we gave our lesson plan! I'm not going to lie, I was nervous at first but I could not let my nerves get the best of me. My partner and I looked at each other and said "We got this!" We made sure we were very expressive in our faces and our gestures. The children not only understood the lesson but also enjoyed it. I understand that the translators are here on a volunteer basis and there may be times where we may not have one. Now, I feel more comfortable doing a lesson without a translator since I know what to expect after today.
For dinner our host gave us a lesson on how to do a proper toast. When giving a toast to someone the person you are toasting must not raise their glass higher than you. Yet, if the person you are toasting is of higher status (such as a professor, employeer, elder, etc) you must not raise you glass higher than them even if you are the one who initiated the toast. Another part of the toast is that the person who initiates the toast can tell the other person to either sip or drink everything in their cup. That can either make the night rather interesting or really fun.
I offered a special toast to Dr. Paik for having given me the opportunity to apply to be here and for having accepted me. I explained to her that I have learned what it is like to be in a foreign land and not know the language and that this trip has placed me in my mother's shoes. This is because she lives in America but does not know English yet, she manages to get by. I can not empathize with my mother more. I wouldn't have know what that is like if it was not for Dr. Paik, who has been like a mother to us on this trip.
Today is the start of our second week here in China. We all woke up so exhausted from yesterday’s trip to the Giant Buddha. Alana, Sydney and I started off our day with a cup of coffee and reviewing their lesson plans after our 3 day weekend. We all brainstormed new ideas and talked about how amazing and breath taking yesterday’s cave adventure was. We finished getting ready to head down and meet the rest of our class to go to the first round of teaching. Today I observed Sydney’s and Salima’s lesson plan. They did such an amazing job and the class responded so well to each and every aspect of their lesson plan. My favorite part of observing today was watching the kids try and sing along to the Hello and Goodbye song in English.
These past few days I have made so many new friends. We all walked to the canteen at SWUST and found a new place to eat. Safe to say we found our new hotspot. After lunch Alana, Celeste, Sydney, and I went shopping and spent all of our time looking at earrings from a street vendor. There are so many cute and fun things to buy that we just can not help ourselves but look. Once we got back, Alana and I took a quick nap because we were so exhausted then woke up to have another cup of coffee before our afternoon session of teaching.
After teaching, a small group of us drove over to a presentation about SWUST and SFSU emerging cultures with one another. During the presentation, I was amazed by Dr. Paik, Dr. Duh, Dr. Rodriguez, and Ben's confidence in their work and passion for social, emotional learning. Going into tonight, I knew that Ben was super nervous but he did such a good job promoting social emotional based learning by promoting our role as SFSU students and representatives. After the presentation, we all went out to eat bbq skewers and talked for 3 hours. I can not wait to experience so much more!
Today we had an early start; on the road by 7:30am, along with a 4 hour bus drive to see the Leshan Giant Buddha. Once arrived, we all decided we would get the best view if we were to go to the feet of the Buddha. The wait was long but well worth it! It was so extremely beautiful; like nothing I have ever seen before. We all made sure to take many photos then began our track back up the mountain.
Half of the group continued to venture around the giant Buddha while the other half, Jonathan, Celeste, Alex, Sydney, Simran, Jessica and I, decided to pay for another ticket to see the caves. The caves were unbelievable. We were able to see two more giant Buddha’s in caves and many large wall carvings. I have to say, it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced.
As we start off our 4 hour drive back to the hotel, I cannot help but feel extremely grateful to have been able to experience the giant Buddha and to be surrounded by sick amazing, fun, caring and adventurous peers.
- Alana Moore
After a long week of activities and trips, we finally had the chance to relax before our next big adventure tomorrow. It felt amazing to be able to wake up passed 7am and wind down a bit.
At 2pm, Jessica and I met up with our friend Fei Fei. I previously met Fei Fei at the orientation meeting and later introduced her to Jessica. All three of us started off by getting some lemonade drinks and snacks. The Chinese buns are Jessica and I’s ultimate favorite snack, so we wanted Fei Fei to try it out too. She absolutely loved it! Other than that, the three of us decided to go to campus for a short walk and stop by the lake to feed some fishes. Some of the fishes were massive! We kept trying to feed them so we can see the big fishes come up. Then as we walked around the lake some more, we noticed a couple of black swans. Jessica and I were in awe since we never seen black swans before. It was definitely an amazing moment. Afterwards, we decided to walk back to the hotel and try out Fei Fei’s motorized scooter. I was so excited to ride it because it has been something that I have been wanting to do since we got here. Let me tell you....it was scarier than anticipated. However, after a few tries, Jessica and I got the hang of it like pros! It was really fun and I’m glad that is checked off my bucket list now!
When 5:30pm came around, Mkaela and I met up with our classmates to try out a new canteen. This one in particular consisted more of Americanized food, which was very exciting. All of us were eager to try it out and see if it tasted like the ones back at home. Irene wanted to share a meal with me, so we ended up ordering a combo meal that included a fried chicken sandwich, french fries, popcorn chicken, and chicken nuggets! It was very tasty and exceeded our expectations. Overall, it was a great day to be able to relax and have some fun with others. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s event!
My alarm went off at 6am but I may or may not have hit the snooze button 2 or three times lol. My roommate made us oatmeal to start our day and I could not decide what to wear because we were going to go see PANDAS! And then when I actualized the thought I realized attempting to dress nice to impress the pandas was probably a bit extra, and that’s coming from me.
One of our helpers was able to get us a van to transport us and it’s been nice getting to look around at new scenery especially with this being our first day off since we began teaching and I could not think of a better thing to do besides PANDAS! When we arrived at the panda center we all quickly split up and soon I found myself feeling giddy at all of the red pandas and peacocks! We climbed all of the stairs until we finally found the panda sanctuaries. I had a front view of a panda eating Bamboo and my heart could not contain itself. Myself and others wandered and found the swan lake and rose gardens and soon all of us found another again and off to old town we go!
On the bus ride we discovered a microphone and soon the bus erupted in Beyoncé, Queen and Trap baby shark covers until we all fell asleep. Now when we arrived to old town we all found a restaurant where we could eat “family” style and of course, Jaleen, Jess, M’kaela and myself as the plant eaters sat together to eat our noodles, tofu and veggies. But during the dinner we found our table and the other one (we’re a large group so we typically sit in multiple tables/booths) having a ‘cheer’ off on who could cheers in more languages!! My table unfortunately lost this battle. Lol.
Afterwards we ventured into the stores to find souvenirs and noticed all of the wet individuals and realized that people were throwing water all on themselves. Honestly, I was fully ready to join. Soon Jess and I found ourselves split from the group and on a road where we discovered a seemingly abandoned amusement park. We ventured through it and discovered a bridge that went over to another town. Jess and I took the opportunity to get out of our comfort zone and head over. The town was quiet but beautiful, a man attempted to talk to us but unfortunately neither of us could communicate, we all thanked each other and went back on our way, soon we found ourselves going through an alley with trinkets and games.
By the time we realized it, it was time to go back and we were lost! We quickly looked at our surroundings and went with our guts to where we thought was our starting point. Soon we found the rest of the cohort and one of the helpers, Yong, who has given me a necklace with flowers. Everyone else had gotten souvenirs and participated in activities within the old town, and even though a part of me wishes I got to experience those too, I’m happy that I was able to experience something different and that we all could share in our different experiences. I know I’ll have more opportunities to join in those activities again, and that’s what I’m really excited for. China has so far been a series of endless possibilities and I am ready for all of them.