When my boss first asked if I would like to go on the CI China trip I knew it would be exciting, but I was a little hesitant because I have never traveled to another country before. But even with the voice of reason talking me out of it, I chose to go. I am so happy that I made the right decision.
Since I work very closely with Chinese faculty, staff, and students who are studying the Chinese Language, this trip was to give me an idea of their culture so that I understand better when there may be a communication breakdown. This is the most important thing I learned on this trip. Before attending the program I could not understand why my Chinese co-workers were so persistent when they were in need, and would not be as patient as the non-Chinese employees. After attending the program I see that it is the culture to push and insist because there are so many people in China, you cannot be passive. This is the most valuable piece of knowledge I gained from the trip because I now have a better understanding, and I know I need more patience.
This trip far exceeded my expectations, but it mostly because of our wonderful student escorts on the trip. Sookie and Leonard were absolutely the best part of the trip. They were with us every step of the way and if something seemed to be going wrong for any of us, they were there in an instant to make sure it was corrected. However, as great as the trip was, there is always room for improvement. I recommend that the courses be scheduled from 8am to 11am and then schedule any travel after the classes. The way the classes were arranged, we were rushed to do anything after, and had 2 hours waste in between. This will also allow for the trips to be split better. For example, we visited The Great Wall and The Summer Palace on the same day, and a Saturday to boot. This is too much in one day, and since The Summer Palace is so popular and visited by so many people it would have been better if the visit was during the week so that there were less people. It was so busy that all we had time to do is walk straight through without looking at anything. Another thing that I would change is maybe a visit to something outside the big cities. There are so many absolutely beautiful places in China; I know there is more to see than just the large cities. Finally, the last thing I would change is the disorganization in the overall leadership. The person who was in charge of this program seemed to not know what was happening most of the time, and relied on the students to help her out. The original schedule had to be disregarded after the second day because it was discovered that she had the incorrect date of our departure so it threw the classes completely off schedule. When the schedule had to change there seemed to be a lack of communication with the program’s leader and our leader.
My overall impression from the trip was great, and I would recommend it to anyone. This recommendation is in large part due to the great student guides, and the beautiful places in China to see.