We started off once again on our favorite bus. The bus was full of cards, laughter, and always sleep. The ride is never long enough as we pulled up to the special-needs school that we would be helping out at. Everyone was tired, but as soon as we saw the students we met the day before, our spirits were lifted. Today, we would be cooking with kids we had not yet had the chance to meet. My spirits were high, but I was nervous about the students ability to cook and my ability to help them. As we walked into the dining hall, the students had huge smiles on their faces and were filled with excitement.
We were each placed at tables, and I was with Tyler and Nicole and three students from the school. At first, we watched as the teacher demonstrated how we were supposed to make the cookies and the ingredients we needed. As we began mixing and adding ingredients, the students became more and more friendly. They started to warm up to us, and this made the day so much more memorable and touching. To my shock, each student knew how to use the cooking tools provided and were very quick learners. This made our helping much easier and our emotions much warmer. While there were some conflicts with the ingredients themselves, the kids were able to show patience and collaboration. From this experience, I was able to take away a great respect for the teachers of this school and a great love for each student’s ability to open their hearts and let American teenagers into their lives. We left that day with tears of joy in our eyes and amazing memories.
From the school, we went to a shopping street that I had previously went to with my host sister, so I knew my way around pretty well. At this street, we were able to walk around and look for presents for others or ourselves. Then we went to a tea house where we watched a performance. This performance consisted of Chinese instruments, dance, and singing. While everyone was really tired, the performance was actually really interesting and entertaining. I loved the dancing because it’s so different from the dance training I do at home. This performance opened my eyes to many different cultural aspects China has to offer.
After this performance, we went to a bamboo garden, which was my favorite garden from the trip so far. This garden was filled with unique Chinese architecture and beautiful bamboo and flower arrangements. I really enjoyed this garden because I was able to experience the love for Chinese culture and tradition. After this, we all ate together at a soup dumpling restaurant, which was one of the greatest dinners on this trip! My host family has taught me how to eat them correctly, so I was a master soup dumpling eater!
After we left this shopping street, we headed back to school for a culture class in ping pong. While some of my classmates are very good at this game, I am not. So instead, Tyler and I played our own version of ping pong that anywhere in the room was considered the table, so we had some extreme points that even ended up in me falling and us both laughing! We then ended the night in a rest period where I caught up with some journals and also some friends back home! In all this day was full of exciting and memorable experiences that made me reflect on values and culture.