Adventures in Sichuan

When I told people in Xi’an where we were going on this trip, they were universally excited. “The food in Sichuan is delicious,” they would exclaim. “You have to eat the hot pot!” “The fish in Chengdu is the best in China!” “Once you have seen the water in Jiuzhaigou, you do not have to…

Student Reflection: Jake

Last month, Jake found out that his younger sister Gabi will be coming on the China Exchange next year.  For his final journal entry, he wrote her a letter of advice: Dear Gabi, Let me tell you, you are in for not only an incredible experience in terms of learning a new culture and its…

Student Reflection: Lisa

Yesterday afternoon, I went to a big public park near the center of the city. It looked pretty normal from a distance, yet when I got closer I saw pieces of paper that looked like flyers everywhere. They were spread out on clotheslines, trees, and bushes. Surrounding the area was an endless sea of mainly…

Saying Yes

As guests at Gaoxin No. 1 School, we are often invited to participate in extracurricular activities. Most of the time, we have no idea what we are getting ourselves into. For example, Kevin, our host at the middle school, told me we would hold a “Knowledge Competition.” My students would form teams with middle school…

A Weekend in Luoyang

I had no idea the human body could do that. This thought ran through my head over and over as we watched a kung fu demonstration at a martial arts school. A little boy folded his body as if he were made of rubber. A group of students held one of their classmates aloft on…

Teacher Reflection: Lăoshī, hăo

At the beginning of every class, Gao Xin Yi Zhong students stand to greet their teachers. “Lăoshī, hăo,” they chant in unison, as they bow their heads forward. This small routine is just one of many examples I have seen of the deep-seated respect for teachers in China. Teaching is a high-status job here, as…

Student Reflection: Sophie

“Sufei, kuai chi fan!” (Sophie, come eat quickly!), my host grandmother calls every morning before breakfast. There is an urgency to eating here that I did not anticipate. After learning so much about Chinese food in Chinese class back in Brookline, I knew that food would be a very important part of the culture here….

Student Reflection: Emily

Walking into immersion class on my first day of school at Gao Xin High School was overwhelming, to say the least. I was pleasantly greeted with applause, and one girl told me she was my desk mate. My initial reaction was how tiny the desks were. At five foot seven, I was one of the…

Travels in Yunnan

When we first arrived in the ancient town of Dali, it was five o’clock in the morning. Exhausted and dazed from our overnight train from Kunming, we dragged our suitcases down the dark cobblestone streets by the light of our guide’s cellphone. But then someone looked up. “Stars!” she exclaimed in awe. The rest of…

Student Reflection: Lia

A few weeks ago my host mother decided that my stuffed pig from America got too cold when I was at school and went out and bought it a baby blanket and pillow so it could stay warm during the day. Later she decided my pig got too lonely and bought me a stuffed panda…

Teacher Reflection: Learning to Eat Chinese

I am convinced my host family is trying to fatten me up. On one of my first days in their house, my host sister produced a scale, and we weighed ourselves. Based on the amount of food I have been cajoled into eating since, I am afraid this might have been to establish a baseline…

Student Reflection: Henry

I could feel the blood pulsating through my veins as we walked up the steeply sloped ramp that led us out of the Xi’an railway station. As we made our way out of the tunnel, the first thing that I took in was the vast Xi’an city wall. For a moment, all my worries had…