An Important Lesson Learned in China | My Family Travels
Between_Classes
Between_Classes
At_Xinghai_Square
At_Xinghai_Square

All I did was mention that I wanted to visit China, and my mom just had to bring up her idea of me going to the overseas Chinese teachers’ training course in Da Lian. My older sister took the teachers’ training course in Beijing summer of 2007, so my mom was hoping that I’d follow in her footsteps. However, I didn’t feel ready to take this course for several reasons: My Chinese wasn’t as good as my sister’s,  I couldn’t even drive yet, and I definitely wasn’t a Chinese teacher – I simply couldn’t see myself benefiting from it. Even if I were to go sometime in my life, shouldn’t I wait at least until after my Chinese has improved?

            But then I remembered why my sister went: to challenge herself to improve her Chinese. She wasn’t a Chinese teacher either; she just thought it was the right thing to do. Finally, I decided that I wouldn’t lose anything in going. Still, I had many doubts that I would like the course. I would be learning with adults, and their Chinese would all be far superior to mine. Could I handle it? Would it be a waste of three weeks of summer?

            On July 15th, I found myself in Da Lian, China at LiaoNingNormalUniversity, enrolled in a class where I was the youngest. It was the first day, and I was sure that we’d be learning Chinese characters, perfecting our pronunciation, reading essays, and taking multiple tests and quizzes. That did not sound fun to a teenager on summer vacation. What was worse was that the facility where we had class had smelly bathrooms— awful squat-style toilets that stunk up the whole hallway. I started to forget why I wanted to come.  

            But then I met a nineteen year-old girl from Austria, who was also taking the course, and a twelve year-old girl from Germany. Meeting these two new friends was encouraging for me because I realized that nobody is too young to learn. Was there finally a ray of hope that I wouldn’t be rotting to death taking these classes?

            Yes, the hope was there for real. All the worrying about how hard the class would be was for nothing. I soon found out that the classes we were taking included classes about softwares and the internet. Apparently the class in Da Lian was entirely different from the one my sister took in Beijing! I was so happy that I soon forgot about all the uncertainty and dread that I felt before.

            During the three weeks that I took the class, I eventually got so good at what we were learning that the adults in the class even turned to me for advice when they had trouble, and I was happy to help them. They called me ?(xi?o)?(mèi), which means “little sister” in Chinese, and I felt older than I’d ever felt before.

            That’s when I realized: Everyday, I’m older than the day before. I’m not a little girl anymore, and if I just take the opportunities as they come and try my best at them, I will always improve on something in my life just by trying, just by believing, just by hoping. Going to China this summer helped me set new goals for myself and gain self-confidence. I not only learned a lot while I was there, but also brought back an important lesson: Never put yourself down by pointing out your own weaknesses, but instead, insist that you can succeed and in the end, you will.

 

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