Tag Archives: summer

My Summer Plans

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Bea and her sisters on a 2012 vacation in Hawaii. 

by Bea Feichtenbiner ’19

Summer starts in just nineteen school days (twenty-six days total) and the Class of 2017 graduates in two weeks. As the school year comes to a close, it is time to start thinking about what I am going to do this summer. Now that AP exams are done, I just have the SAT subject tests on June 3rd and then Term 3 exams the week of June 5th to 8th. My sophomore year is almost over.

Of course, the last day of school will be both filled with sadness and excitement. Sadness because I will not see some of my friends for the whole two months of summer. That is the hardest part of being friends with international students. They are too far away for me to visit them. My roommate is from Beijing and I know that it is going to be weird not seeing her every day until September 3 when we move back.

The last day is also going to be exciting because I have so many exciting plans this summer. The first week or two are going to be pretty boring. I am going to be running all over the place trying to make up for not seeing my family and friends. Then I start driving lessons. I turned sixteen in October, but I think I have driven a grand total of five hours since then. I am also self-studying Spanish 3 this summer, so I will be meeting with my tutor pretty often as well. The real excitement does not start until June 29.

I love traveling, and this summer my family is going to Greece. We leave at the end of June and will not be back in the states until July 12. We are going to see the Parthenon, visit Delphi, and tour museums and the city of Athens for a couple days before heading to Santorini. As a Latin student, I have been reading and translating myths surrounding the ancient history of these places. Next year, I have to write a paper on the classical time period of the Greeks and Romans. After a couple days history, everyone will be ready for a break. We are heading to Santorini for almost a week before heading back to Athens to fly home.

When I get back from Greece, I will have to resume my Spanish studies. But then I am enrolled in a summer camp called Camp Neuro where I will have the opportunity to learn a ton about neurology, which I am considering to be my major. I even get to dissect a pig’s brain! After Camp Neuro, I have another summer program for neurology, but this one is through the National Student Leaders Conference. I am headed to DC for nine days to stay at American University and participate in labs and lectures.

My family always makes a trip up to Traverse City, Michigan to visit my grandma at the end of the summer. While the twelve-hour car trip is not fantastic, snorkeling in Mickey Lake and sailing on Long Lake will be. If I get lucky, we might even head over to Lake Michigan for a day trip.

Once I come home from Michigan, I will have to start packing for school. I still have one more trip though. One of my friends at home has a beach house in Ocean City and my family will probably stay with them for a few days. Of course, I will have to be studying Spanish as well.

After I go to the beach, the summer is pretty much over. I will be studying for my Spanish placement test, finishing up the summer work I am going to be assigned, and packing up everything I want for my junior year. It is definitely going to be a busy summer, but it will also be fun… if everything goes according to plan!

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I Joined the Circus

by Colin Ganges ’16

In the summer of 2015 I joined the circus.

The Trenton Circus Squad to be exact. I had decided to volunteer in my neighborhood rather than participate in a school service trip because I felt that there was a real need in my own community. I was unsure about where I could help, but knew I wanted to interact with children.

I chose the Trenton Circus Squad because I thought it was a very unique idea, would give me the chance to learn new skills, and help in my neighborhood. The organization’s goal is to attract low income teens to help entertain children close to home. They also believe that performing arts are an effective tool to teach lifelong habits such as self-reliance and physical well-being.

trenton circus squad
Photo courtesy of Steve Sarafian

Before working with the team I had never participated in any circus nor did I have any skills associated with the circus. While there I learned basic acrobatics and juggling.

Our days were divided in two—the first half of the day was devoted to skills training and the second half to our upcoming performance. This allowed me to try all different forms of entertainment and find which one suited me the best. After deciding to focus on acrobatics and juggling I was able to practice those skills the rest of the days in preparation for our upcoming shows.

While practicing my particular routines I was nervous that my first show was in a few days, and all the skills I was planning on showing I had learned less than a week ago. We would run though the show three to four times a day trying to figure out the order of the performances.

People walking by on the streets would see us practicing and would stop in to watch for a few minutes. I would see children run in, excited just to watch us perform.

My most memorable moment came when a homeless man walked in to watch. The man who ran the Circus Squad saw him and went over to talk for a few minutes. He walked away and came back with a red clown nose for the homeless man. He put the nose on smiling and laughing while he walked out the door, even more excited than the children who would stop by. This showed me how important this community service was and how it could completely change someone’s day.

Another moment when our effect on the community was evident in the moments following the shows. After our performances we would teach the children and the adults in the audience basic skills. Everyone would be divided into five different stations with the audience cycling through.

I either taught juggling or the tight rope. At first I was very worried because I remembered how nervous I was while learning these skills and now I had to teach others. The children were so excited to try that I didn’t focus on how new I was, but on how happy they were. Some chose to try every skill possible while others stuck to one skill and didn’t want to leave until they could master it.

This opportunity for community service allowed me to help my community while getting outside my comfort zone to entertain others. I think back on how much fun I had and how this community service helped me as well as the children for whom I was there to perform and make smile.

Want to join the circus? Just ask me.

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Our Final Day in Beijing, and China

Our last day in Beijing and our last day in China. We woke up and headed out for breakfast outside. Given the choice between Chinese breakfast and a bakery, almost everyone chose the bakery. After breakfast, we rode over to Coal Hill, a small hill strategically located just south of the Forbidden City. The hill is just high enough to give a wonderful overview of the Forbidden City, a view afforded nowhere else. After going up and down the hill, we headed out to 798. This old factory was turned into artist studio and gallery space several years ago and offers a wonderful viewing and selection of modern Chinese art. After wandering around there for several hours we headed back into the city to meet a number of Chinese George School families for dinner; typical Beijing cuisine. Since we had to get up so early the next morning to catch our flight, we called it a night around 8 o’clock.

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Beijing Day 3

Another beautiful day in Beijing; quite seriously, blue skies and sunny, hot weather. We set off this morning by subway to have dim sum, Cantonese brunch, consisting of various steamed buns and dumplings, chicken’s feet, and other delicacies. After breakfast, we walked about 15 minutes to Yonghegong, or Lama Temple, a temple of Tibetan Buddhism. After another 15 minute walk and a brief stop for green tea ice cream, we arrived at the Confucius Temple. Temple is perhaps the wrong term for this complex, which was a place of learning and the place for the Imperial examinations, which determined who would become the highest-ranked officials. We next walked through the winding hutongs, or alleys, to arrive at a wonderful vegetarian restaurant.

The interesting thing about Chinese vegetarian restaurants is that the foods are made to appear and even taste like meat and fish. After lunch, we got on a bus and headed south to Tiantan 天坛, or the Temple of Heaven. The Temple of Heaven is where the emperor used to communicate with heaven, and is now a large, beautiful park. Across the street from the east gate is the Hongqiao Pearl Market. Everyone enjoyed shopping in this very Chinese market, full of clothes and shoes and accessories and electronics and bags, and where you can bargain until you get the deal you want. Above back of the hotel where everyone put their stuff away and got a quick shower before heading out again for a dinner of Beijing duck. This is a specialty not to be missed when visiting Beijing, and we were not disappointed.

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Beijing Days 1 and 2

We arrived in Beijing after a ten-hour overnight train ride from Yangzhou. Fresh from a good night’s sleep for some and a not so good night’s sleep for others, we boarded the bus for a short ride to the hotel where we dropped our bags before heading out to do a full day of sightseeing. We drove over to the south side of Tiananmen Square, where we marveled at the sheer size and scale of the square. We looked north toward Mao’s portrait and then headed to walk underneath it on our way into the Forbidden City. Continue reading

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Thoughts on our First Day at the Yangzhou Orphanage

by Savio ’17

We started off the day as usual, with a short rendezvous at Yangzhou high school. We were all refreshed off of our weekends with our host families, and ready for a good day of service at Yangzhou Orphanage. The bus ride was thirty minutes, but it ended up being about an hour because the staff made us wait while they organized. Upon finally entering, we were all surprised about the condition of the orphanage. There was a clean lobby with a front desk, multiple couches, and best of all, air conditioning. After touring the building, we split up into three groups. The first group was to mop the hallways and wipe all the surfaces of the 2nd floor. The second group was to feed some of the disabled babies. And the third group was to play with some of the physically disabled children.

I was in the first group, so we ended up mopping and wiping for roughly an hour and a half. Since we finished fairly fast given the amount of time, we got to hang out with a few staff members in their office. When all the groups were finished, we walked over to their cafeteria, which was in a different building. It had the set up of a restaurant, but the food was on a tray, and of similar quality to the food at the other schools we visited. After lunch, we went to a zoo and many of us were excited to see the pandas. Most of the animals were lying down and panting because of the heat, and rightfully so, as the temperature was about 96 Fahrenheit.

After an exciting couple of hours, we walked back to the orphanage to finish our service for the day. My group rotated to feeding the babies, which was difficult to say the least. One of the staff briefed us on some of the conditions that the kids suffered, and told us to not be too rattled by their appearances. The babies were lined up in the hallway and as we entered a few started to cry. Everybody chose a baby and we got to work. Although some of the babies were relatively cooperative, others were crying continually and not eating. Luckily, my baby began to eat after a bit of coaxing and patience. I used the “here comes the airplane!” tactic, which quite surprisingly works well. Many of the babies had cleft lips, which was off putting in terms of feeding them, but we managed and eventually the job was done.

After the feeding, we went into a room on the same floor, which served as their playroom. Some of the older toddlers that could walk and run were in a large pen that had a bunch of toys, and since so many GS students were with the babies, I decided to play in the pen. It ended up being a blast and I got a game of keep away going with a foam basketball, and they loved it.

My experience at the orphanage was notably different than the special needs school because of the disabilities of the children as well as their age difference. The feeding was a very straightforward job, but it put us in the uncomfortable position of being face to face with a child that looks very different than what we’re used to. At first, it really put me off, but after a few minutes I realized the baby girl I was feeding was no different than me, simply another human trying to survive in a world that can be harsh. If anything, I wanted to give these children the one on one attention and love they deserve and clearly yearn for. It was so fulfilling to see the smile on their faces as we played, or as they hung on my arms and climbed my back. They clearly had suffered from not only physical disabilities, but a lack of human touch. This is clearly some of the biggest areas of impact I, and my classmates, have accomplished during our time here, and I hope that impact lasts.

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Destiny is interviewed by a reporter from Yangzhou Evening News (扬州晚报)

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by | June 26, 2016 · 9:52 am

Last Day of Service at the Special Education School

Today was our last day at the school for the deaf and mentally disabled. After arriving on the campus, we took photos with some of the students and teachers in the school’s dining hall. We then went to the building where the administrators work and we had an arts and crafts class with some of the students. I worked with a nineteen-year-old that was quite intelligent, despite the physical and mental challenges she faced, and her knowledge of music and love for singing sort of surprised me. After doing arts and crafts, we wiped down all the chairs in the dining hall along with most of the walls. After eating lunch, we worked with two groups of deaf students. We were tasked with providing them help with making father’s day cards, which proved to be more challenging for the George School students who worked with the younger group of kids. Earlier in the day during one of our short breaks, we spent time learning sign language that was specific to China so that we could be of more help and better at communicating. Continue reading

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Service Trip Participants Highlighted in Local Chinese Paper

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       The above article appeared in the local newspaper, after we spent two days at the Jiangdu Special Education School.

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Arleigh: Our Second Day at the Special Needs School

 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.

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