Hello from China!
We've had such a busy schedule this trip that when we attempt to reflect on our experiences, we fall asleep each time. However, the highlights of China have definitely stood out. In Beijing, my favorite memory was when we visited a local high school. We sat in on an English class where they reviewed the 'have' tenses before conversing with us. Some students spoke comfortably with remarkable English while others clearly struggled. Next, we went out to the playground and I made friends with some of the students. We talked with them about all kinds of topics ranging from school and family to local culture. We learned about their dedication to schoolwork and about each student's individual aspirations. This school was fairly close to Western education and it was amazing to meet the faces of one of the most influential countries in the modern world.
On the other hand, in Xian, we visited a rural school away from the city, and the interactions were quite different. The principal of the school did not speak any English and even speaking with the teachers required a bit of patience. Their lives were little like our own, so to hear that my buddy desired to travel to America came as somewhat of a shock as she had never been even as far as Beijing. Overall, the differences even between the two schools, not to mention between our own, gave us a new perspective into international relations. Each group wanted so strongly to strengthen international connections that we all knew that the future of the relationship between China and the U.S. can only improve. Even so, we are all looking forward to a full night's sleep back in America all the same.