Thursday, July 3, 2008



Writing from a wang ba (internet cafe) in Bejing. Have since arrived in China after what seemed like a never-ending trip to get here. Two nights ago I met my 11 students, and upon arrival in Bejing yesterday afternoon, met my local co-leader, PeiPei. So far, so good! The students, while some of them still incredibly shy, seem to be enjoying themselves and are excited about the trip to come. PeiPei is great and will be immensely helpful to me throughout these next few weeks!
After we arrived at the hotel yesterday afternoon I had the kids rest up and take whatever they needed to do for about an hour. I took that time to walk the streets alone within a few blocks radius around the hotel. I couldn't believe how awesome it felt to do so! Hadn't even sunk in that I was really in China until that moment becuase it had just been a series of bus rides, plane rides, airport layovers, etc. Finally, though, I strapped on my fanny and mingled with locals! Stopped to talk with an old man holding one of the cuter babies I've seen in my life. Got to chatting a bit and the baby kept calling me Ayi (Aunt). We played for a bit and I walked around some more, getting weird stares but somehow not minding those or the smog that engulfs Beijing. A man tried to sell me some cantaloupe on a stick but I said I was full...really I'm just not supposed to be eating raw fruit like that! I can't explain why it felt so good to walk around alone but I think I felt more confident than ever to be on my own in a new place.
Had the group write a "group constitution" last night outlining the rules and regulations for the program. I have really encouraged the students to take responsibility and ownership for the program and to put in what they want to get out of it. They gave the constitution back to me after about an hour and it outlined several things I was hoping they'd touch on, such as respect for each other, for me, PeiPei, and the host well as showing respect towards Chinese and Chinese culture in general. This is the first time out of the U.S. for some of them so I really hope the trip, and me, meets their expectations!
Right now the group is doing a scavenger hunt around the Bejing Hutongs...old alleyways that have been preserved for hundreds (thousands?) of years. I gave them items to purchase written in Chinese characters that they need to find. Good luck finding/eating the stinky tofu!
We're heading to Tianneman Square and the Forbidden City this afternoon, and Peking duck dinner tonight! Tomorrow...the Great Wall! More later.

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