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Bon voyage travelers, keep up the love in this little thing called life. We just wanted to take a moment and let you guys know that each and every one of you are incredible people and we had a unforgettable travels together. It has been our honor and our joy to travel with you, to teach and learn from you, to grow with you and to laugh with you. We will miss you so much, but we know that we will see or hear from you soon. And, we take comfort in knowing that you are out there, in the world, somewhere, doing and learning and laughing and growing. All of you have humbled us in unique ways. What is a misconception that you had about China that has been dispelled or challenged over the course of this trip? I came into this trip with the misconception that China is a monolithic society, with a set way of doing things that is controlled by the government, I was pleasantly surprised by the wealth and diversity of customs, languages, opinions, and political dispositions. I came into China not really knowing what to expect. I didn’t know a lot about China’s history or its culture, but the one thing that I thought that I knew was that it was a rapidly growing and aggressive society. But, as I quickly realized, there is more to China that its rapid development. Its people play a very important role in this development, but also in China’s moral development, which is something that I had never thought about before. We experienced so much absolutely wonderful hospitality throughout this trip from homestays to just regular people on the street giving us directions. This reality especially surprised me because I just wouldn’t expect a developing society like China’s to have people who are so kind and giving. Previously my image of China contained a strange mix of tradition and modernity overseen by an overly oppressive government. I have come to realize that in fragments that this is true, but that there are far too many peoples and cultures for any absolute statement. The reality is that the mountains are high and the emperor is far away. The world here changes so quickly, and culture changes but does not die. Coming into this trip, I was almost completely unaware of how incredibly beautiful this country’s farthest reaches are. This trip has opened my eyes to the natural beauty and stunning cultures outside of big cities, places that are often forgotten by the world. I believed that the government greatly impinges on every aspect of life and personal freedom in China. Now I see that the daily lives and joys of people here are, in a way, the same as people back home and that people here lead lives that I could not have contemplated before. How have you been impacted by the discussions, the itinerary, or the experiences that we have had on this trip? Our itinerary, our curriculum, and our discussions were all designed, I think, to expose us to the greatest number and greatest diversity of places and people. After traveling to that many places and participating in that number of communities, I feel that I can speak from a place of experience when I talk about China and where it is heading. The collective experiences on this trip have introduced me not only to a new mass of cultures but also to a new way to travel and live with truly great people, consequently expanding my “extended” family. I have been greatly impacted by everything that we have done together on this trip. I have learned about a society that has a rich history spanning thousands of years. I have learned about the struggles and triumphs of its people and also where perhaps its future will be. And, not only that, through our experiences, I have learned about myself. The experiences we’ve shared while traveling across this country have caused me to question my own views, embrace the ones that I don’t or will never understand, and create new ones that I was not able to truly giver enough thought to until now. It all has made me try to seek understanding before judging people or events. I have learned to look more for the good in things too, and focus less on what bothers me. One of the biggest things all of our discussions and lessons have reminded me is how much fun it is to learn about the world! I have been exposed to so many new ideas and perspectives, and it has been a blast, and made me want to keep going at it! What should friends and family know about me when I return home? I have not solidified my life path. In fact, my future has become ever vaguer and much more exciting. -“Support” written underneath this by another student. I am going to be much more appreciative of everything that I have at home and more open and accepting of other people’s opinions. I have added nine incredible people to my extended family. That while I’ve retained aspects of who I was before the trip, I am coming home a drastically different person, a person who has begun to slowly discover who he really is. I am changed. Maybe I will seem the same when I return home, maybe no. But deep inside, I am changed. After all the experiences we’ve been through, after all that we’ve seen and done, it’s impossible to say that I’ll be the exact same person as I was before the trip. So I am going home a changed person, and I just ask you to give me a chance to show you how I’ve grown. I am ready to play a more active role in our family. I am capable of doing so much more for you and for myself. To bring this trip full-circle here is a poem that Parker posted on the Yak board a month before the program started:

THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice. meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes. because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

– Jelaluddin Rumi

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The world is round and what you think of as an end is really a beginning.

Parker Pflaum, Angela Head & Rachel Chen,Best Notes From The Field, China Fall 2013 Semester

Description

Bon voyage travelers, keep up the love in this little thing called life. We just wanted to take a moment and let you guys know that each and every one of you are incredible people and we had a unforgettable travels together. It has been our honor and our joy to travel with you, to […]

Posted On

12/7/13

Author

Parker Pflaum, Angela Head & Rachel Chen

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    [post_content] => Dear China Semester Students & Families,

It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival!

Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for eagerly awaiting families:

December 6th, 2013
Air China #4173
Depart: Kunming (KMG) 4:15pm
Arrive: Beijing (PEK) 7:25pm

December 6th, 2013
Air China #983
Depart: Beijing (PEK) 9:00pm
Arrive: Los Angeles (LAX) 6:00pm

We will have a Dragons Administrator on call for the duration of the travel day. Starting on Friday, 12/6, should you need any assistance after regular office hours, please call our “on-call” number at 760-709-0848.

We wish all students a great trip home!

Sincerely,

Boulder Admin
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China Fall 2013 Semester

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Return Group Flight Information

Dragons Admin,China Fall 2013 Semester

Description

Dear China Semester Students & Families, It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival! Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for […]

Posted On

12/3/13

Author

Dragons Admin

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    [post_content] => Below is a compilation of some of the many lessons that we have learned on our journey together (what we have discussed as a group):

LEARNED TO/ABOUT...

-Be okay with dirt
-Plan a trip
-Climb a mountain (and not die)
-Take care of my own stuff
-Chinese history
-Foods that help diarrhea/constipation
-Write letters and journal
-Travel with less stuff
-Suck things up and not get mad
-To say only as much as necessary
-Appreciate the little things
-Be a traveler
-Self discipline
-Simplicity
-Be patient
-Push my limits and face my fears
-Dissolve preconceptions of others
-Be okay with not being okay
-See things not only with my eyes
-Not worry about the future
-Understand the people who I really don't understand
-How far my feet can go
-Be independent
-Trust others and myself
-How little you need to be happy and live
-Find a rose on a bad day
-Be okay with making mistakes/being embarrassed
-How far a smile can take you
-Be okay with not understanding
-How much people back home care
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China Fall 2013 Semester

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What We’ve Learned…

Natasha Galperin,China Fall 2013 Semester

Description

Below is a compilation of some of the many lessons that we have learned on our journey together (what we have discussed as a group): LEARNED TO/ABOUT… -Be okay with dirt -Plan a trip -Climb a mountain (and not die) -Take care of my own stuff -Chinese history -Foods that help diarrhea/constipation -Write letters and […]

Posted On

12/2/13

Author

Natasha Galperin

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    [post_content] => My first night in my home stay in Kunming, as I sat awkwardly in the living room staring at the coffee table listening to my little brother bounce around the apartment, I wondered to myself “Where’s the refrigerator?” I soon realized that my family didn’t have one- that every few days my home stay mom would go to the market for meat, bread, and vegetables, store them on the kitchen counter, cook with them until they were gone, and then shop again.

 

Moreover, as I settled into my little family’s habits and lifestyle, I saw just how little stuff they had. My mom wore variations of the same outfit every day- black jeans or leggings with a black shirt or dress, topped by her red fleece or long white sweater. My little brother Tom didn’t even have a closet in his bedroom, keeping his similarly simple daily wardrobe of sweatpants, 2 t shirts, and knitted vest in his parents’ room.

 

As time wore on, I became more and more interested in the way my family seemed to operate with so few things. For all the talk of Chinese parents spoiling their kids, our one visit to a store together proved that didn’t apply in my family, for as soon as Tom would put a toy or sugary drink in the shopping basket, his mom would take it out, saying “4 kuai? Ridiculous!” or “we don’t need that”. This strategy seemed to work well for them- the one new toy I saw him receive was an adorable plastic carrot that turned into a bird, courtesy of a kids meal at KFC, and it kept him occupied for days on end, accompanying him on every walk to English class and peeking out of his pocket at the dinner table. Spirited and goofy and often loud Tom was, but no one could call my home stay brother spoiled. It was the same reason that the apartment had neither internet access nor a working TV- my home stay parents didn’t want their son watching cartoons or playing internet games all day.

 

Some might look at all this and assume that because of all of this wonderful simplicity, I’m saying that my home stay family was somehow superior, having better relationships with each other than any American family could ever have- that they spent every night chatting amiably while across the world Americans were consumed by all of their stuff. On the contrary, I didn’t see any reason to believe that my family was any closer or “better” in their relationships than my family at home- like any family, they had disagreements and issues and were far from perfect. What I will venture to say is that by simplifying their stuff, their lives seemed to be similarly simple, almost completely devoid of the busyness that is both prized and hated by people in my community. The point was not that my home stay family couldn’t afford nice things or didn’t want to relax or have fun, because they did, but their actions pointed to a larger Chinese mindset that I have seen echoed in many of my interactions with other families here. Simplicity, for better or worse, seems to be the end goal for many people here, and I hope that no amount of new malls or megastores will ever change that.
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China Fall 2013 Semester

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No Refrigerator

Grace Arnold,China Fall 2013 Semester

Description

My first night in my home stay in Kunming, as I sat awkwardly in the living room staring at the coffee table listening to my little brother bounce around the apartment, I wondered to myself “Where’s the refrigerator?” I soon realized that my family didn’t have one- that every few days my home stay mom […]

Posted On

11/24/13

Author

Grace Arnold

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    [post_content] => I hiked up a mountain with Will today. we're all in a tiny village in Guangxi. we went on a path that Rachel (our lao shi) showed us and we went up. Rachel and her step sister accompanied us up part of the way. When they left, rachel took my backpack down with her. It was full of water. My backpack is less waterproof from the inside and my water bottle was open inside. a lot of stuff got wet in there. We hiked on. I brought my bottle and my camera. it was outstanding. the "karst peaks" stood out of the hillside. The hills were steep and there were dead corn stalks everywhere. along with them were wildflowers. it was clear that the corn was hand picked. the hills were too steep otherwise. we zig zagged up the slope, no on a side trail. we passed a house that i thought was abandoned. i bet Will a kuai coin. He lowered it to two jiao and i raised it back to 3 jiao. i had found a kuai coin in my bed that morning. he found one under his pillow the night before. it was probably the same coin for we were sharing a small small bed. i had it in my pocket. as we got closer we saw a blue hat on the wall. i gave him the coin. we walked up the slope and through some conifers. they were spiky and fairly well kept. a path extended up the hill and we went on.

 

we walked through a little pine forest from which you could see more rice terraces and the peaks. we almost made it to the top. before we made it we encountered a small cliff. it was about five feet high and was covered in dead shoots (what i took to be bamboo). We looked at it and soon decided it could be climbed. Will held my stuff. I made the climbed first. as will made his ascent i held my stuff i'd had him hold for me. He muttered something like

 

"How the hell are we gonna get down from here on the way back?" I asked Cameron as he helped me up onto the ledge. We were surrounded by shoots. Before I took a step, the cry of a dog shot out from behind the stalks, probably twenty meters away. Cameron is generally a pretty relaxed guy, unfazed by most things that have come at him on this trip. But when he turned around, I knew by the look on his face that we had to run. We were on someone else's land, and the last thing we wanted was a hundred-pound pit bull running us off of it. The way we were going to get off the ledge we had just climbed, it turned out, was to jump and slide down the shoots that ran the length of the incline. The mountain we had just taken thirty minutes to climb took us five to descend at a nervously fast clip. We expected the dog chase us, but it was either chained or decided it had better things to do than chase two foreigners down a mountain. At the bottom lay the house we had bet on before. We sat in the field of dead corn and tried to see if there were people inside. Approaching we saw some cups laying out to dry in a windowsill. For all intents and purposes, I had won the kuai coin.

 

As we got down to the river that sits at the vertex of the angle made by the mountain and the farmland beneath, the sound of the rushing water begged us to cross a rickety wood and steel foot bridge and sit on the riverbank. Time stops in places like the one we're in right now in Guangxi; places so incredible they require you to feel and navigate their land before you can actually believe they exist.

 

 
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climbing

Cameron Pattison and Will Cabaniss,China Fall 2013 Semester

Description

I hiked up a mountain with Will today. we’re all in a tiny village in Guangxi. we went on a path that Rachel (our lao shi) showed us and we went up. Rachel and her step sister accompanied us up part of the way. When they left, rachel took my backpack down with her. It […]

Posted On

11/24/13

Author

Cameron Pattison and Will Cabaniss

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    [post_content] => Over the course of the past few months traveling to many corners of China there has been a recurring phenomenon (literally written on walls) that has piqued my interest. Located mostly on the walls surrounding construction projects are billboard sized government issued China Dream posters. Ubiquitous and impossible to ignore, I have found myself stopping in the middle of a moving crowd to stare or squeezing forward on a bus to catch a glimpse and hopefully decipher a China Dream slogan that I hadn't seen before.

What's all the fuss about, I guess you might be asking? To be perfectly honest, I am not sure. While I may not be able to define the social and political significance of it, the China Dream campaign does seem to both point to something important about China right now and echo of the history that has led us here.

Within minutes of arrival in Beijing, Xian, Dunhuang, Chengdu, Kunming, Guiyang, Guilin, and every other city we have been to on this trip we were greeted by 8 feet tall heavy nylon signs stretching as long as a wall goes, bearing messages of the China Dream. We also spot China Dream posters in many other places on smaller posters, on the backs of buses, next to bus stops and so on. Once you have your eye out for it, the China Dream is everywhere. The most emblematic and commonly seen sign reads 中国梦我的梦 which translates to China Dream My Dream. There are dozens of other posters and designs. The overarching theme seems to be: China is good, the Party is good, and things are getting better for everyone in China. There are also many messages directing each person to do their part, lest the whole thing fall to pieces.

From my observations, a big part of the China Dream campaign tries to tie traditional Chinese values with this so called China Dream. I can't help but wonder, is there borrowing and adapting of the American Dream going on here? The China Dream posters often have traditional paintings, paper cut outs, poems, and traditional sayings. There are also explicitly patriotic messages and ones encouraging everyone to do their part to contribute to safety and protecting the environment. One poster reads "地球只有一个" which means "there is only one world". This poster also features a sketch of doctor listening to a stethoscope touching a globe. It is fascinating to see these things just outside of massive construction projects (where one can only hope that rigorous and adequate safety and environmental standards are being enforced).

I find this poster campaign interesting also because it shows the muscle that the government can flex in terms of spreading a message far and wide to the Chinese public. It also reminds me of the massive propaganda campaigns that fueled support and deification of Mao Ze Dong for so many Chinese of previous generations. One can still find those old posters hanging in the businesses and homes of some Chinese and can purchase them in markets all over China. Back then the massive propaganda campaigns aimed to do many things, among them was to vehemently oppose the west and capitalism and also remove traditional Chinese values from society. Now the China Dream seems to be trying to remember and reinstate some of the traditions and values that were fanatically opposed a few decades ago while accepting capitalism with open arms. Strange how things change.

As far as the actual influence of the China Dream campaign goes, I have no idea the scope or scale. I haven't met any Chinese who are any where as interested as me in what these posters have to say. Sitting down for tea a couple days ago in Guiyang, I asked the friendly tea shop owners (actually friends of the owner sitting in for a day while the friend was gone) what they thought about the recent announcement that the One Child Policy would be relaxed and prison labor camps phased out. These very friendly and open guys responded by saying they hadn't heard, but regardless of that, they don't really believe or pay attention to much that the government says. They do their best to live good lives, grow food, grow tea, take care of friends and family and can't be bothered with things totally out of their control.
    [post_title] => 中国梦我的梦 China Dream My Dream
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中国梦我的梦 China Dream My Dream

Angela Head,China Fall 2013 Semester

Description

Over the course of the past few months traveling to many corners of China there has been a recurring phenomenon (literally written on walls) that has piqued my interest. Located mostly on the walls surrounding construction projects are billboard sized government issued China Dream posters. Ubiquitous and impossible to ignore, I have found myself stopping […]

Posted On

11/24/13

Author

Angela Head

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    [post_date] => 2013-11-24 08:56:56
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Over a month ago, our group sat around the program house talking about our X phase, which at that point seemed so far away. As we lounged and laughed on the couch before our language lesson, we ate our weight in ju zi, or in English, mandarin oranges. One of us, I can't remember who, jokingly suggested that for out X phase we should go to an orange grove and spend some time harvesting out favorite snack, seeing as we couldn't get enough of them. We laughed at this seemingly preposterous idea, not knowing that in a couple of weeks we would indeed be snipping bright orange ju zi from their branches under the hot sun in Tao Jia Ying. We discovered this golf ball sized, "adorable" and unbelievably sweet fruit in Dunhuang when Parker bought a bag full and shared them with the us. The rest is history- on average, our group consumed 4-5 kilograms of ju zi per day while in Kunming, not counting the times some of us would buy an individual bag (guilty). I would go as far as to say that- don't kill me, Will- these oranges have played an even bigger role in our gustatory experience of China than baozi. That said, you can imagine our reactions upon hearing we had the opportunity to harvest these oranges in Rachel's childhood village as our X phase service project. We walked down the one road past grape vines and rice paddies until we arrived at the orange grove. Before our eyes stood some of the most beautiful orange-filled trees we had ever seen. The branches hung low to the ground, weighed down by the fruit that erupted from the vibrant green leaves. As the sun glistened off the raindrops left by the morning shower, we took our scissors and baskets and set off among the trees, joking that we were on the set of a Tropicana commercial. Picking the oranges turned out to be more tedious than we expected, with the dull scissors barely hacking through the branches and water dipping down our sleeves, but none of us seemed to mind. We were, after all, picking (and eating, only occasionally) our favorite ju zi. When a pail was filled to the brim we would dump the contents into a wicker basket that we then loaded onto a bamboo pole and balanced painfully on a shoulder and brought to the massive pile of oranges by the road. I tried my hand (or should I say, my back?) at this method of carrying the oranges and was once again amazed at the strength of the workers. The only way I was able to take two steps with the bamboo rod digging into my bony shoulder was to use my jacket as a cushion, much to the amusement of the other workers. As I jostled left, right, back and forth over slippery rocks towards the waist-high pile of oranges ahead, I quickly developed a deep appreciation for any person I had ever seen using this pole to transport anything from chickens to coal to a mini fridge. Here I was, with a cushion, having difficulty walking a hundred feet while they lugged hundreds of pounds to and from the market, up and down stairs. This was not the romantic image I had in my head of the farmers walking along the path within the rice paddies, their bodies bouncing as they bore their loads on their shoulders. This was painful labor, and I was humbled by the physical strength and endurance of Chinese farmers. We ended our morning in time to walk back to our house for lunch at noon. Before we left, we filled a basket full of freshly picked ju zi to bring with us per the instructions of the generous farmers. As we left, we passed boxes filled with cellophane-wrapped bundles of tiny oranges ready to be driven to markets nearby. What will they cost? we asked, remembering the hefty twelve kuai per jin (half kilo) oranges we had religiously bought in Kunming. One and a half kuai per jin, they answered, surprising us all. Our work in the grove had amounted to many baskets of oranges, but the delicious fruit we picked would, unbelievably, only bring in a couple of dollars for the farmers. We left the grove with a different appreciation for the value of the kuai, a better understanding of the meaning of hard work, and sore teeth and stomachs from the countless oranges we had inhaled that morning. Now when we visit a market and see the toothless old man or the girl our age sitting behind the pyramid of freshly picked ju zi, I am sure we will all remember back to out morning in the grove and savor the oranges a little more knowing first hand of the work it took to bring them to our table. 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[cat_name] => Best Notes From The Field [category_nicename] => best-notes-from-the-field [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/best-notes-from-the-field/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 205 [name] => China Fall 2013 Semester [slug] => china-fall-2013-semester [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 205 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 240 [count] => 89 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 11.1 [cat_ID] => 205 [category_count] => 89 [category_description] => [cat_name] => China Fall 2013 Semester [category_nicename] => china-fall-2013-semester [category_parent] => 240 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2013/china-fall-2013-semester/ ) ) [category_links] => Best Notes From The Field, China Fall 2013 Semester )
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Orange Obsession

Carolyn Murphy,Best Notes From The Field, China Fall 2013 Semester

Description

Over a month ago, our group sat around the program house talking about our X phase, which at that point seemed so far away. As we lounged and laughed on the couch before our language lesson, we ate our weight in ju zi, or in English, mandarin oranges. One of us, I can’t remember who, […]

Posted On

11/24/13

Author

Carolyn Murphy

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    [post_date] => 2013-11-22 10:52:07
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-11-22 17:52:07
    [post_content] => Watch alarm.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Sshhh. Too early. Back to sleep.
Alarm clock alarm.
Beep. Beep. Beep. So tired. Gotta get up.
Roll out of bed. Floor is so cold; where are my slippers? Tip toe to bathroom, hope my sister doesn't wake up. Toothpaste, toothbrush, brush, rinse, spit. Time to wash my face--water is so cold. Why am I so cold? Want to go back to bed; I'm so tired.
Back to my room. What should I wear? Grab my pants, long sleeved shirt and socks. Grab my pack and head downstairs for breakfast. I hear my stomach rumble--I guess it is never too early to eat.
I sit down and pour a bowl of weird oatmeal cereal. Cut open my bag of milk and pour into my bowl. Eat quickly 'cause I don't want to miss my bus.
"Bark, bark, bark." Ah the puppy is awake. Please be quiet, just please be quiet. All I want is to eat in peace. I finish my cereal and rinse the bowl in the sink. All right, time to go. The house is dark and quiet as I slowly leave; my family is still asleep--I'm jealous.
Head out of my house towards the gate. It's still dark outside because the sun hasn't woken up yet. No one has woken up yet it seems, except me. I exit the gate, wave hello and smile at the guards who giggle like school girls after I walk away. Gotta love those guys.
Still dark but the sun is slowly starting to get up. I cross the street, which surprisingly has very few cars and isn't too busy. But the casual blast of the horn wakes me up every so often, keeping me on my toes. I make it to my bus stop, already packed with people ready to leave for work.
But why does my bus stop look so different? I never noticed that small tree there before.
I wait for the bus. And wait. And wait. I listen to my music to help the time pass by. Taylor Swift makes a good company. I see the bus in the distance. I know I need to get my money ready and my legs prepared to sprint because it will be a race to get a spot on this bus, bus 61.
I watch the others waiting for the bus get ready too. I grip my 2 kuai and lightly run towards the front of the bus stop. The bus is getting closer and closer every minute, its lights are blinding in the darkness of the morning. My heart is racing.
Runners, on your mark, get set, GO! 
The bus stops, opens its doors, and in mere seconds the crowd descends on it. I shove my way through the crowd, pushing my way through so I don't have to wait another who know's how many minutes until the next bus 61 arrives.
After minutes of shoving, squeezing and a little bit of internal screaming, I make it onto the bus. I grip one of the high hanging handles and move my feet into my bus-riding stance. With my feet shoulder-length apart, and a bend in my knees, I am ready for any sharp turns, abrupt stops or unpleasant shoves from my fellow bus riders.
Now it's Legally Blonde: The Musical that keeps me company on this long bus ride. As I jam out, I take in the slowly rising sun over the horizon and watch as it lights up the city. I take in the construction that is literally everywhere the bus passes and revel in its enormity and expanse. And finally, I take in the adorable grandmothers helping their grandchildren get off to school safely, the young professionals talking rapidly on their cell phones as they make their way to work, and the old men comfortably sitting on a bus seat while watching the circus around them that is riding a bus in China.
I hear the name of my stop coming up across the loudspeaker-Wen Miao. Time to get off. I wrestle my way through the packed bus towards the exit doors. My heart is racing again-I hope I can make it off.
After accidentally hitting a fellow rider with my somewhat bulky backpack, I make it to the front of the exit doors. Solid. I will make it off after all.
The bus stops, doors open, and I leap out of the bus to avoid being crushed by the rest exiting the bus.
Bus riding was a success. Now it's time to make my way to Greenlake Park for my morning exercises.
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China Fall 2013 Semester

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My Morning in Kunming

Natasha Galperin,China Fall 2013 Semester

Description

Watch alarm. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Sshhh. Too early. Back to sleep. Alarm clock alarm. Beep. Beep. Beep. So tired. Gotta get up. Roll out of bed. Floor is so cold; where are my slippers? Tip toe to bathroom, hope my sister doesn’t wake up. Toothpaste, toothbrush, brush, rinse, spit. Time to wash my face–water […]

Posted On

11/22/13

Author

Natasha Galperin

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    [post_date] => 2013-11-22 10:51:04
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-11-22 17:51:04
    [post_content] => In China, a common activity in the elderly community is to go out to parks in the mornings and do various exercises, including tai ji, dance and a series of stretches. I was really interested in this so during the last week of our Kunming homestay, I decided to wake up early and head to Greenlake Park, a beautiful park in the heart of the city, and join an exercise group. 
The first morning that I went (Monday) was a little stressful because the park was so big and also because there were so many different groups of people doing exercises. But after wandering around the park, I found a somewhat secluded area that overlooked the lake. In this area, there was a group of about eight elderly people who did this common series of stretching, both typical stretches but also somewhat unusual ones, including a series of face and eye and leg rubbing. They played a very old tape that had very old-fashioned music and directions in completely incomprehensible Chinese. I stood a way's away from the group to make sure that I wasn't making them feel uncomfortable. As I continued to join their group every morning, I moved closer and closer to the group, which was pretty dispersed around the area, until I was very close to a couple of the members.
 
On my third day doing exercises, one of the old men came up to me and chatted for a little bit. He asked where I was from and what I was doing in Kunming. Using the Chinese I knew, I excitedly answered his questions and flashed him a smile. The next day, I overheard him telling another group member about me (one of the ways I knew he was talking about me was because he very clearly pointed at me). But I felt grateful that he was including me in our little group of morning stretchers. And I also felt grateful towards the entire group over the course of the week because they made me feel like one of them and not a foreign teenage girl who didn't belong. My groupmates did not stare at me as most usually do, and they didn't judge me when I at first struggled with some of the weirder stretch moves. Even though some of the people who passed by our group did stare at me with a mix of wonder and confusion, I, for the most part, felt normal and that I fit in. 
 
After my stretching on that first day (I stopped when they began doing the various rubbing stretches), I noticed a group right near where I was that did tai ji. So I joined that group too. And so for the rest of the week, I would do my stretching up until the rubbing portion and then do tai ji until it was time to go back to the Program House. Carolyn joined me for the tai ji portion of my morning exercises, and we had a lot of fun together! The tai ji group also accepted us without staring or judgement; many times we received encouraging smiles from different members of the group. Every day was a different series of tai ji movements as well as a different style. Some mornings we moved very slowly, while others we moved quickly or used swords or bamboo sticks (Carolyn and I just mimed those because we did not have them). 
 
I am really grateful to have been able to participate in an aspect of Chinese culture that can really be found almost anywhere in China. And I also feel so fortunate to have been able to have an experience where I was universally accepted and not explicitly viewed as a foreigner, which is an issue that I encounter on almost a daily basis in China. My mornings in the park with tai ji (and with my stretching troupe) are mornings that I will cherish forever. 
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China Fall 2013 Semester

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Mornings in the Park with Tai Ji

Natasha Galperin,China Fall 2013 Semester

Description

In China, a common activity in the elderly community is to go out to parks in the mornings and do various exercises, including tai ji, dance and a series of stretches. I was really interested in this so during the last week of our Kunming homestay, I decided to wake up early and head to […]

Posted On

11/22/13

Author

Natasha Galperin

WP_Post Object
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    [ID] => 94727
    [post_author] => 26
    [post_date] => 2013-11-22 10:49:26
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-11-22 17:49:26
    [post_content] => 
Our group recently helped organize and participate in an art project at a local Kunming elementary and middle school that is mostly filled with the children of migrant workers.  There were 200-300 kids and we broke into teams of two or three to work with the kids to do a series of art projects that tested their planning and execution skills and we also taught a short English lesson and a basic health and first-aid course.  We worked with Chris and Colin, the owners of a cafe in Kunming called Salvadors.  Both of them have done a lot of service work in the Kunming and Yunnan areas.  To see some pictures of our project, and some information, please visit the following website: http://www.villageprogress.com/news.html [post_title] => Our recent art project done with the children of migrant workers at a local Kunming school [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => our-recent-art-project-done-with-the-children-of-migrant-workers-at-a-local-kunming-school [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-11-22 10:49:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-11-22 17:49:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=94727 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 205 [name] => China Fall 2013 Semester [slug] => china-fall-2013-semester [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 205 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 240 [count] => 89 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 11.1 [cat_ID] => 205 [category_count] => 89 [category_description] => [cat_name] => China Fall 2013 Semester [category_nicename] => china-fall-2013-semester [category_parent] => 240 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2013/china-fall-2013-semester/ ) ) [category_links] => China Fall 2013 Semester )
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Our recent art project done with the children of migrant workers at a local Kunming school

Parker Pflaum,China Fall 2013 Semester

Description

Our group recently helped organize and participate in an art project at a local Kunming elementary and middle school that is mostly filled with the children of migrant workers.  There were 200-300 kids and we broke into teams of two or three to work with the kids to do a series of art projects that […]

Posted On

11/22/13

Author

Parker Pflaum

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