The summer of my sophomore year was like no other summer. I experienced new things, saw things I thought I never would, and made friends I will never forget. The summer of 2007, I became an American Student Ambassador through the People to People Organization which was founded by President Eisenhower in 1956. Student Ambassadors travel around the world to learn about different cultures, meet and befriend locals, and most importantly give people in other countries a better image of America. I got the opportunity to do all those things in China.
For three weeks of that summer I wasn’t the same shy, quiet, reserved girl. I was outgoing, open minded, ready for anything and I loved every minute of it. The first stop was Beijing. Getting off the plane, I’m not going to lie and tell you I wasn’t scared, because I was, but with the excitement of everything I overcame that fear quickly. Straight off the plane we went to a local restaurant, my first taste of real Chinese food. When the food came out, it was not anything like what you order at your local Ho Wok. I’ve never tasted anything like it; it was all delicious, except maybe the fish eye soup.
The next day we went to a Kung Fu school where the best of China train. They put on a show and then tried to teach us some Kung Fu; tried being the key word, but nevertheless it was fun. The next day, hands down was my favorite. Climbing the Great Wall of China was one of those surreal moments that you can’t help but pinch yourself. Being at the top and looking down over China really took my breath away. I know I will never forget that day. Ever. Before leaving Beijing we made a quick stop at the Beijing Zoo to see the Panda bears. I had never seen a real Panda before. They were so cute and now my new favorite animal.
After saying goodbye to Beijing, we took a short flight to Xi’an. Here we were given a special ceremony that had once been given to President Clinton. After the captivating ceremony where we were given a key to the city, we toured the Xi’an wall. I guess China’s kind of big on walls. From there we took a short bus ride to where the famous Terracotta Warriors reside. I had previously learned about these ancient warriors in school and couldn’t contain my excitement to see them. What I didn’t remember learning was the enormity of them, both in size and their meaning. That was another one of the things I will never forget.
Next was the home stay, where we stay the night with a Chinese family. My home stay family in Donhan Village was so nice and loving. They instantly made my worry and fear go away. Although they didn’t speak English and my Chinese vocabulary consists of the word hello, we made it work and it was truly amazing. I still think about them and pray for them.
After saying goodbye to my family, we took off to our last stop, Hong Kong. Taking a cruise in the Victoria Harbor, we got an astonishing view of Hong Kong. The skyline is incredible and now something I recognize instantly. I thought this was the perfect ending to an amazing trip, now I just can’t wait to go back.
As a result of those three weeks that summer I’m not the same shy, quiet, reserved girl. I am outgoing, open minded, confident and loving every minute of it.
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