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Post written by TA, Wanghaixin Peng '16:     

On a sultry Thursday, the students left the SIAS hotel, where they had been staying for the past ten days, and embarked on their weekend trip to Jiyuan, Jing’s hometown.
Immediately after their arrival, the students visited the Jiyuan First High School where they were first welcomed by the head master of the school and then the friendly, enthusiastic students.
To experience the local students’ lives more closely, the NMH students attended an English class alongside them.
 Our NMH students were surprised that, in a typical Chinese high school like the Jiyuan First High School, seventy students share one classroom.
After the English class, our NMH students enjoyed a talent show presented by the Jiyuan students. Later a basketball game was played between the local students and the NMH students to further strengthen their newly built friendship.
     On Friday morning, the students were invited by Jing to her parents’ home in Jiyuan. Jing’s mother ardently welcomed our students with her kindness and delicious fruit! 
Later the students went to a kindergarten and spent a wonderful time playing Duck Duck Goose with the adorable kids.
 In addition, our students learned how to make steamed buns. 
 In the afternoon, the students visited a local middle school where they individually attended two classes with the local students. 



After the classes, all the students went to the school’s auditorium for a talent show in which the NMH students also gave several impromptu performances in return for the hospitality they received.
     Later our NMH students went home with their host families. Living with a traditional Chinese family is a refreshing experience for them; they made dumplings and ate local dishes prepared by their families. At the end of their home-stay, many of our NMH students felt that they had never spoken that much Chinese in one night in their lives!
     Here are some reflections by the students:
John Kim: “The main highlight of my trip in the last few days took place at Jiyuan. Jiyuan holds a wonderful setting because not only is it small but it is also easy to get around. I enjoyed going to the middle school, and learning what typical Chinese students do every day.”
Tiamo Blankenship: “Going and staying in a Chinese family’s home was a great learning experience. I feel that my Chinese improved, because of the family’s lack of English and from spending one night with them. It was nice to visit the smaller town and see the student’s lifestyle both in and out of class.”
 Ian Lam: “During this past week in Jiyuan, I was deeply immersed in the Chinese education, culture, and lifestyle. What stood out to me the most was sitting in a class with 72 other students. The class was filled with alacrity, curiosity, and energy. But memorization is a vital part of a child’s ability to get past an exam, and I feel that this is not what education should be. A child should learn and understand instead of just memorize. It hurts me to know that these kids have to study so much for the College Entrance Examination.”
Patterson Malcolm: “The past few days have been the most important in the development of my Chinese communication skills. Being forced out of my comfort zone and required to utilize a language not native to me has improved every aspect of my Chinese. By meeting high school students I was exposed to a glimpse of my own life in another culture. This idea of a parallel culture version of my self was expanded by the opportunity to live with a family on a one night home stay. This relation to my own life will drive me to make further connections with the Chinese people through the study of their language."
     On Saturday morning, the students said goodbye to their host families and, after exchanging e-mail addresses, the students started heading to their next destination, Xiaogoubei Scenic Spot. Leaving their city life behind, the students were absorbed by the nature and its endless greenness. 



On Sunday morning, the students left for the Wulongkou Scenic Area, a mountain with several thousand monkeys, where they found macaques all over the place.

     After their visit to the Wulongkou Scenic Area, the students took a three-hour bus ride back to SIAS campus. Despite a day of traveling and moving, most students went to the classroom during study hall hours to prepare for the upcoming final on ThursdayOn Friday, the students will end their three-week study at SIAS and leave for Nanjing.

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