Does everyone know how to use the bathrooms here?
I rolled my eyes as some of my classmates listened intently to the teacher as if she were telling them the secret of life. In moments like these I felt superior, part of an elite group, who had experienced this all before. The fond memories of a previous world trip kept surfacing and they only reinforced the idea that my knowledge made me special.
Although knowledge is power, it is also true that the more you have the less you know. Many times on this trip I felt frustrated when previous knowledge actually hindered me and I fell into the trap of, “But in Taiwan it was like this. I never saw this there. I think I saw something like this before.” Instead of my mind being open to new things, I realized that I had subconsciously closed it off and was trying to relive previous trips and apply those customs to China. Doing this was not only stressful but also detrimental to the growth of my worldview that could be expanded by the trip.
Linda, would you like to say the sentence out loud?
“Uhh…” I looked around the room in confusion as I looked at the letters on the page. Suddenly, I heard a whisper in my ear and like a parrot I repeated the sounds out loud to the teacher.
I looked thankfully at my savior, a host student with glasses and short jet-black hair, and smiled before continuing the lesson.
In the classroom, I felt helpless as I stumbled through countless Chinese phrases. Although irritated and drained, everyday I left the classroom feeling happier than the day before. During this period of bonding with my Chinese classmates, I forgot about everything else and simply enjoyed the opportunity to learn. Having such understanding classmates and teachers made me feel as if it was ok to ask questions and not know all the answers. Having forgotten that this was a learning experience at the very beginning of the trip, it was refreshing to have a renewed outlook on learning as much as possible.
Although the trip is only halfway over, I feel that the time I have spent at the Shouguang Century School has sparked in me the love for learning that had become somewhat extinguished at the start of this trip. My host classmates and the cultural lessons have reminded me of the magic found in learning new things and that the more knowledge you have the less you know about the world.