Photo of the Week
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    [post_date] => 2013-07-21 12:45:14
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-07-21 18:45:14
    [post_content] => Hi all,

As many of you have probably heard, Kunming experienced quite the rain/thunder storms on Friday. I had no idea the skies could hold so much water, and much of it ended up flooding the streets here. Although there were many soaked feet and busses that never came, we survived the storms with no problems and the students have been enjoying a (finally sunny) last weekend with their homestay families.

We just had all of the students and their homestay families over to the Program House for a final thank-you potluck dinner - it was a lot of fun. Tomorrow, we'll have our final formal Chinese classes and then get on the bus for Dali and Shaxi for the final student-led travel portion of the course. We'll post updates on our travel as often as we can!

Be well!
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China Language 4-week B

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Safe and dry!

Trevor Lee,China Language 4-week B

Description

Hi all, As many of you have probably heard, Kunming experienced quite the rain/thunder storms on Friday. I had no idea the skies could hold so much water, and much of it ended up flooding the streets here. Although there were many soaked feet and busses that never came, we survived the storms with no […]

Posted On

07/21/13

Author

Trevor Lee

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    [post_date] => 2013-07-19 10:03:10
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    [post_title] => Tibetan Temple, Ji Xiang Cun
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Tibetan Temple, Ji Xiang Cun

Katrina Northrop,China Language 4-week B

Description

Posted On

07/19/13

Author

Katrina Northrop

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    [post_date] => 2013-07-19 10:02:03
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-07-19 16:02:03
    [post_content] => Hello All!

Sitting in the Kunming program house currently, we are playing cards, talking, and watching the rain fall outside. The rainstorm outside is violent, creating rivers in the road, clogging up the bus system, and making our morning commute treacherous. This is one of the few things our group has to complain about, however, because these last few days in Kunming have been full of fun. Yesterday I visited a traditional Chinese hospital for my ISP, where I observed acupuncture being done on patients with a whole range of sicknesses. Afterwards, I went to Karaoke with my host sister and her best friends. This was a uniquely Chinese experience, listening to the three girls sing  popular Chinese songs, and them urging me to sing my favorite American ones.

Thinking back on the whole program, I feel like we have experienced China through comparison. China has many dimensions, and we have by no means seen them all, but we have certainly seen the country at different angles. In Ji Xiang Cun, we were able to experience an ethnic minorities lifestyle, eating eggs fresh from our own chickens, walking on dirt roads to see our friends, waking with the sun and falling asleep when it grew dark. Now we see an entirely different way of life, but one that is no less "Chinese". Kunming is the capital of the Yunnan province, and is therefore a major city, but it is far from the biggest Chinese city, and yet it's population is larger than New York City's population. Even so, it is a manageable place with greenery, welcoming people, and cool weather.I am looking forward to a weekend with my home stay family, and afterwards an exciting few days of student planned travel!

This trip has been tasting of different places within a very diverse country, and while it's impossible to see it all, we have all seen enough to want to come back and experience even more.
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China Language 4-week B

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Kunming Life

Katrina Northrop,China Language 4-week B

Description

Hello All! Sitting in the Kunming program house currently, we are playing cards, talking, and watching the rain fall outside. The rainstorm outside is violent, creating rivers in the road, clogging up the bus system, and making our morning commute treacherous. This is one of the few things our group has to complain about, however, […]

Posted On

07/19/13

Author

Katrina Northrop

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2013-07-19 09:58:10
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-07-19 15:58:10
    [post_content] => I remember in a park in Beijing we all sat around in a circle reading Dragons 11 core principles. I remember hearing them read off accompanied with famous quotes on them. Finally, I remember being told that I would be tested in and learn about all of them throughout the course. Today I really learned about self reliance first hand. Strolling through my Lonely Planet, I found a place which advertised to be a village of 12 of the 25 ethnic minorities in the Yunnan province.

Seeing as though the streets had recovered from the mass flooding in the morning, Jeff and I took the bus to the train station. There we said zai jian as he headed to run an errand and I to try to get to this place I read of in a book. After asking a policemen on the street, I learned to take the 44 bus and in which direction. On the bus I asked a man how many stops to my destination to which he replied "two". Yet after we both exited the bus two stops later he told me he made a mistake and I had to go back on. I went on the next 44 and found out I still had 15 stops to go. Half way through I asked to use someones phone to call my homestay mom to tell her I would be home late and by the time we got to my stop, I was the only one on the bus. The bus driver told me where to go and said goodbye.

After studying and meeting with ethnic minorities such as Naxi, A'Chang, and Dai people, I was expecting a lot from here. Yet I found a version of disney world. Thousand year old traditions being made into tourist attractions. I still wanted to go in the main park, yet the policeman at the gate told me it was closed. I tried to persuade him for 20 minutes and was about to give up hope. That was until a group of 15 young Chineser people were about to exit and asked him to take their picture. I volunteered and they loved how I spoke mandarin. After eventually posing in their photos, I told them I wanted to see the park but the officer wasn't allowing me to. So, they pretended to have me take a picture where he couldn't see, gave me a ticket, and wished me luck. About 15 minutes into my stroll through "It's a small world (Disney ride)", an officer approached me and told me I had to go. Thinking I was about to be detained for tresspassing, I told him I didn't speak Chinese and wanted to go home.  At the gate, he sent me off hassle free and told me I was smart for finding my way inside. On the bus home, I became friendly with a college student majoring in English. She gave me her number and said if I needed help to call her. A few stops later, I saw a familiar building. My original plan was to take the bus back to the train station, and then take my normal bus home. Yet I went for it and got off at the next stop. I was home 10 minutes later.

I find it so cool that I got off at a random stop in a new city soley based off a belief I was near my house. I think you have to trust and beleive in yourself to do that. Trust yourself that you are right, and beleive in yourself so that if you are wrong, you can try again and be right.
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China Language 4-week B

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Self Reliance

Eli Wachs,China Language 4-week B

Description

I remember in a park in Beijing we all sat around in a circle reading Dragons 11 core principles. I remember hearing them read off accompanied with famous quotes on them. Finally, I remember being told that I would be tested in and learn about all of them throughout the course. Today I really learned […]

Posted On

07/19/13

Author

Eli Wachs

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2013-07-18 13:29:37
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-07-18 19:29:37
    [post_content] => When I talked to my parents yesterday, for the first time in two weeks, we both had a lot to say. Somewhere between the "I miss you"s and the "you did what"s, my parents told me a story they heard on Fox News that had reminded them of me. They said that a story came on about how free range chicken is a lot better in many ways than mass produced chicken. For some odd reason, my parents made a connection between the chicken and I. On the phone, they told me I was their free range chicken because I was able to go to an unknown place and find my way. They said that if most kids were thrown in a city and asked to use the bus system to find their way home, they would be clueless. Therefore, since I have successfully made my way through the unfamiliar streets of Beijing and Kunming alone, I am their "free range child." I didn't fully understand what they meant until this afternoon. After having a cooking class at our program house, I headed home for the night. I walked the crowded streets to my bus stop for bus 146. After an hour of standing at the bus stop, the bus still hadn't arrived. It was already 7 and I knew my family would be wondering where I was. I finally flagged down a taxi and gave him the screws. As he drove off, I looked around and realized we were going the opposite direction of my house. Panicked as to where we were headed I quickly hopped out of the taxi. I didn't really know where I was going or what I was doing but I started walking. After a couple blocks, I asked a girl if i could borrow her phone. She kindly let me use it and I called Long Yun for help. We decided I should try taking a taxi again andnso I did. The taxi driver had to stop 3 times on the way because he had no idea where my address was. After dropping me at the wrong building, I was about to break down. I pulled myself together and realized I was just a block away. When I finally got home, I had never felt so relieved, and yet slightly accomplished. It is now I realize that my parents are right, I am their free range chicken.
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China Language 4-week B

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Free range chicken

Shannon West,China Language 4-week B

Description

When I talked to my parents yesterday, for the first time in two weeks, we both had a lot to say. Somewhere between the “I miss you”s and the “you did what”s, my parents told me a story they heard on Fox News that had reminded them of me. They said that a story came […]

Posted On

07/18/13

Author

Shannon West

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2013-07-17 09:48:54
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    [post_content] => Our past few days in Kunming have been a complete metamorphosis from our village homestay in JiXiangcun. Rural and urban life in China feel worlds apart. Yesterday (when I was supposed to write this Yak), I had quite the "dragonesque" (creds to Eli) experience of getting home on my own using the bus and getting off to complete unfamiliarity. If my Chinese directional skills did not improve yesterday, then my charades skills definitely did. My trek home through the city was the complete opposite of the village where everyone lives on one road and there is no room to get lost.

Chinese classes have also been really enjoyable in Kunming as we can really take our studies to the streets. Pu Laoshi took us to Kunming's city center for a few hours where we saw all the gates, had egg tarts, and drank "zhen zhu nai cha" (bubble tea) of course only speaking Chinese the whole time. (See photo below for a candid class shot)

Shannon, Tom, and I had our first cooking class today for our ISP which went will until I burned myself due to the massive amount of oil in Chinese cooking. I was told to put toothpaste on my burns--tradtional Chinese medicine perhaps? We learned how to make 3 popular Chinese dishes: a fried beef dish, a spicy potatoe dish, and an egg and tomato dish. My homestay family also taught me how to make Baozi tonight which I can't wait to bring home with me along with all my new cooking skills.
    [post_title] => Greetings from Kunming
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Greetings from Kunming

Maddie Vance,China Language 4-week B

Description

Our past few days in Kunming have been a complete metamorphosis from our village homestay in JiXiangcun. Rural and urban life in China feel worlds apart. Yesterday (when I was supposed to write this Yak), I had quite the “dragonesque” (creds to Eli) experience of getting home on my own using the bus and getting […]

Posted On

07/17/13

Author

Maddie Vance

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2013-07-16 10:51:55
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    [post_content] => Today was no doubt one of the best days I have spent so far with the program. It was certainly a memorable experience, and I believe my group members would agree. The day started with the usual routine, encompassing an early wake up, a nice breakfast, and four hours of Chinese class with short breaks in between. During today's class, I employed my role as the group's navigator and together with my classmates convinced the teacher to allow me to buy some delicious baozi (especially the red bean flavor) for everyone. After a productive class where we learned several useful measure words, (a copious amount exists) we proceeded to a scavenger hunt in Kunming organized by the counselors. Similar to the one in Bejing, my group and I had to complete numerous objectives in order to obtain points that contribute to compete against the other groups. First, we had a delicious lunch at a local restaurant, consisting of pork baozi, rice noodles (one of the objectives), and Chinese corn bread. Afterwards, we proceeded to take a bus to a local shopping mall, where we spent some of our recently acquired money from from the bank. At that point, we felt fantastic because we had been efficient and were having a really fun time. When we were done, we went to the bird and flower market, which was another objective. We then met a really nice lady who led us to our final destination and objective, green lake park, where we met up with the rest of the group to discuss. Although we did not win, since we did not have time to go to the temple, we were very satisfied and happy with our accomplishments. My homestay dad soon picked me up at the park, and I went home to eat a nice dinner.

Overall, I really loved today's experience because we not only got some nice clothes, but we also talked to several Chinese people without fear or regret, and it was pretty easy to get around Kunming due to their generosity.
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China Language 4-week B

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What A Great Day

Eva Vanek,China Language 4-week B

Description

Today was no doubt one of the best days I have spent so far with the program. It was certainly a memorable experience, and I believe my group members would agree. The day started with the usual routine, encompassing an early wake up, a nice breakfast, and four hours of Chinese class with short breaks […]

Posted On

07/16/13

Author

Eva Vanek

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2013-07-16 10:51:12
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    [post_content] => yesterday we arrived at our Kunming homestay! although we will miss our family from the village homestay, and are glad we got to experience what it is like to live in a very rural area, i think i can say that we are all glad that the Kunming homestay came second. we now all have showers with hot water, which feels like a luxury, and it is easier to understand our families since they don't have thick accents. also, most of us now have computers so we are able to contact our families and post more yaks.
i have quickly built new relationships in my Kunming homestay. i have a 7 year old sister, who is adorable gave me a small doll as a present, a mom, dad, grandmother, as well as a 23 year old aunt (my dad's younger sister), who feels like an older sister to me and i have become really close to. Everyone in my homestay is extremely nice and helpful. Other then having many conversations, yesterday we all bonded over a game of Rummikub, and today i taught some of them how to play Crazy 8's. i am excited for what more will come in the future.

zai jian!
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China Language 4-week B

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Transition to Kunming Homestay

Eva Vanek,China Language 4-week B

Description

yesterday we arrived at our Kunming homestay! although we will miss our family from the village homestay, and are glad we got to experience what it is like to live in a very rural area, i think i can say that we are all glad that the Kunming homestay came second. we now all have […]

Posted On

07/16/13

Author

Eva Vanek

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    [post_date] => 2013-07-16 10:49:27
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    [post_content] => Over the last few days that we had in Ji Xiang Cun (a farming village in Yunnan) I was sort of getting tired of the 'rural life; the million bugs bite's that had other members in my group worried I had the chicken pox, or bucket showers and a toilet of two bricks in a chicken pen. Even though it was quite the amazing experience, when it came to those last few hours, I was ready to go and I didnt think I would miss the place. I was excited for that evenings visit to Li Jiang, and the overnight train ride to Kunming, to just get away. But the most memorable part of the week was definetly that last 30-45 minutes that I spent with my little brother. We just played ping pong, we didnt even talk much. But during that time I could tell from the way he was reacting that he was really going to miss me, it made me quite sad that I had to leave him as it made me feel as though I had made an impact in his life just over those few days we had there, and that without me by his side as his older brother, it wouldnt have been the same. It meant alot to me that unlike alot of the other village children that afternoon, he just came to say one last goodbye.

Arriving in Kunming the next day, and coming back to a world just a bit more modern, I really came to realise how luck I really was with everything I had at home. Even though a trash can, a comfortable bed, and a bathroom with a warm shower and working plumbing seemed a common and simple thing to me, my homestay family in Ji Xiang Cun was quite happy without any of it as modern as we might like it, and they seemed to go about their lives as happy if not happier than alot of us. My homestay in Kunming was quite similar to what i had at home in Hong Kong, but everything seemed almost to much for me to handle after spending a week living in much more rugged and minimal condition. From all that I have so far learned from this trip, the most important is beening grateful for what I have and realising that I really dont need most of it.

Zaijian
by William Robinson
    [post_title] => Saying Goodbye
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China Language 4-week B

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Saying Goodbye

Eva Vanek,China Language 4-week B

Description

Over the last few days that we had in Ji Xiang Cun (a farming village in Yunnan) I was sort of getting tired of the ‘rural life; the million bugs bite’s that had other members in my group worried I had the chicken pox, or bucket showers and a toilet of two bricks in a […]

Posted On

07/16/13

Author

Eva Vanek

WP_Post Object
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    [post_author] => 19
    [post_date] => 2013-07-16 10:49:24
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    [post_content] => We left the beautiful and very rural village of Ji Xiang Cun yesterday via overnight train to arrive in Kun Ming for our second homestays. I already miss my younger sister from the village! Most nights we were there, our siblings took us out to meet all the other kids in the village to play sports or to just wander and hang out all together. Despite not being able to practice speaking much Mandarin with my village homestay, who were Na Xi (they mostly speak a different Chinese dialect), I still learned a lot from them about culture as well as communication with others in general. On our last night there, we got together with our homestay families at the Dragons program house and all joined in a traditional Na Xi dance. Ji Xiang Cun was an incredible experience and I'm so glad we had the chance to spend a week there and got to know it's people.
Now that we're at our urban Kun Ming homestays we all feel very pampered and refreshed. I'm excited to really start on my ISP, which will involve assisting at a Chinese elementary school.
Yi hui jian!
Greer
    [post_title] => Reflection on Ji Xiang Cun
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China Language 4-week B

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Reflection on Ji Xiang Cun

Eva Vanek,China Language 4-week B

Description

We left the beautiful and very rural village of Ji Xiang Cun yesterday via overnight train to arrive in Kun Ming for our second homestays. I already miss my younger sister from the village! Most nights we were there, our siblings took us out to meet all the other kids in the village to play […]

Posted On

07/16/13

Author

Eva Vanek

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