13,948 miles around the world, 13 hours “ahead” of our families, and 14 days away from home, China was for many of us, an amazing adventure into the unknown. For me, the opportunity to travel to Beijing, China was an opportunity for personal and professional growth. To live on campus at the North China Electric Power University, interact with Chinese students and leaders, and taste so many unique Chinese dishes are a few of the things that made this trip a learning experience that I am excited to take home and share with my friends, family, and students.
I enjoyed every minute of my time visiting China, but I particularly enjoyed the visit the Beijing Ritan High School, the Great Wall, and the Confucius Institute Headquarters. The High School visit was an exceptional opportunity to get a glimpse of how the education system works in China, and I hope in the future there will be an opportunity for me to collaborate with the students and teachers of this school. When it was all said and done, it was a great reminder that kids are kids, and people are people, no matter where they come from or where they’re going.
In the future, I hope students visiting China through the same program will have the opportunity to learn more about the language and home life aspects of the culture. In regards to the language education, teaching practical language skills, such as shopping and ordering food, would be an excellent way to impart concrete language skills on the visitors. For example, students could study in a classroom, and then go to lunch together and practice ordering their food with their Chinese language skills. Additionally, the market near the university is a great place to practice shopping language skills, since many of the merchants speak little to no English. In regards to home life, I think it is an important part of understanding the culture. Although I do not have a recommendation on how to share that with visitors, it is something to consider.
Overall, I feel profoundly blessed and thankful for this opportunity. I have so much more to learn about China and Chinese culture and language, but thanks to this opportunity, I have a deeper interest in the pursuit of this knowledge. Additionally, I am excited to share the dance, the food, and my overall experience with my students here in the US in an effort to prepare them for the globalized world we live in today.