Two years ago I was privileged to have the opportunity to take a Chinese language class at school. This was a class I wasn’t sure about due to the fact that it had never been offered to the school population and I hadn’t even considered something as extraordinary as the Chinese language. It seemed like the most difficult language ever! But, after the first week or so, I fell I love with the class. I wanted a challenge! And it was. I became slightly understanding of the class material, and the longer I stayed in there, the more I loved it. I eventually had the breakthrough thought that I wanted to go to China. I wanted to go see the history, the culture, the people, everything! My dream seemed exactly that – a dream. I could only imagine taking that trip. Then one day – just a few months ago – my father came home from work and told me that I was getting the opportunity to go to China for my high school trip. I was ecstatic! Finally, one of my dreams came true.
Fast forward a few months, and we have landed in china and I am taking my first breath of Beijing air. The sulfur lingering in it, the smell of 22 million people, it smelled like an amazing and life-changing adventure. We go to the university that was hosting us, and it was not in a tourist-y part of town; it was in a very real part. A perfect part. I didn’t want to see tourist sights all the time. I didn’t spend two years in language learning the tourist language. The campus was very nice, and the rooms were sweet – still very new and clean. After the first night, I got used to sleeping in the harder beds, and actually enjoyed the back support they offered. That’s the difference between China and the Unites States- China is more of a firm country, whereas the US is a more soft and squishy country. In China there are rules, and people follow them. The rules are firm and effective, the people are generally thin and firm, and the beds are firm. The United States is opposite. The enforcement of rules is kind of soft. The people are generally overweight and soft, and the beds are soft. I think China has the right idea. Firm creates character. Anyways, soon after we arrived, we hit the ground rolling. We toured the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and many, many more places. The places were all stunning and historic, and I enjoyed all of them. I used to tell my parents that I was a big city girl, and the always wondered how I knew that, seeing as I had never been to a big city. I just knew. And I was right. I fell in love with Beijing. Not needing a car and riding public transportation was so much fun and so different than what I am used to. I wish I could take a subway here. The restaurants were always delicious, and the service was good. The people are nice there. The traffic is bad. But yes, I am a big city person. Everything about the city of Beijing fascinated me.
The thing that left the biggest impression on me were our leaders – Leonard and Sookie. These two people were the sole reason this trip was as great of a success as it was. They took time out of their incredibly busy schedule to guide us around. We could not have gotten the same experience without them. Leonard was absolutely wonderful. He led us around, took pictures, taught us new words, took us to karaoke, and became the super important and lovable big brother of us all. He really has a place in my family. My father thinks of him as a son. Leonard is truly a unique soul. He is so smart and helpful. Sookie is something else entirely. She is Wonder Woman. Sookie always knows what is going on and how to handle the situation. There were times where us Americans didn’t know what to do, and Sookie was right there to fix the situation. She is so incredibly smart and talented, and she was a staple on this trip. She was always looking out for everyone, and offering her heart and soul to make people happy. I have never met anyone sweeter.
I learned many things on this trip. Listening skills from the native speakers, courage to try new things, the history of one of the oldest places on earth, and the skills I need to become an adult. These were the most important things I learned. I was taught by Leonard and Sookie how to become a real adult, and they didn’t even know they were teaching me. I learned that a real adult needs to have patience, courage, enthusiasm, assertiveness and love. They exhibited all of these characteristics while leading us, and I learned as they went. My greatest story I have to tell is the time I went to china. I am really proud I got to go, and I am very happy. Thank you so much for allowing me to travel, and thank you for all of your accommodations.