The infamous Sichuan Earthquake occurred in May of 2008, and the mental scars had mostly ameliorated when I was embarking towards my second year of high school in 2010. Getting volunteer work for College was on mind, and visiting home in China was on my father’s mind, and with these two threads of thought as an impetus, an idea began to form. What precipitated was a proposal for me (and later some friends jumped aboard) to use my American advantage to hold a fee-free, one-week English camp in Sichuan, China, with the purpose to teach English to middle school kids affected by the Sichuan Earthquake, and along the way, take some time out to visit family.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
We left for China in late July. We actually stayed in Sichuan, China for around 30 days (late July to Mid autumn) and I enjoyed hanging out with my wonderful too-little seen relatives, and consuming the merits of a different culture and lifestyle. The convivially and the sociality are the two most lasting aspects I gained from living in China, and are an atmosphere I reminiscence of even today during lonely lock-yourself-in-your-room or nobody-wants-to-hang-out-with-you kind of days back home in the states. I think that the best way to describe it is that the U.S. is a home oriented lifestyle, where civilians relish the ideas of embellishing their home, rasping up their gardens, and keeping sufficient venues of entertainment in the house. In China the lifestyle is outside the house oriented – whether it’s shopping, meals, or entertainment, and that combined with the world’s largest population makes for a dynamic, almost too convivial social atmosphere. Living in China has helped me realize the value of social health; this would be a sad world if we did everything alone.
In between the period of having fun, laughing, establishing relationships, and partying with friends and relatives, came along a week that demanded a more selfless endeavor. It was August 1st, the start of our first day of English camp, and the opportunity to leave my own mark as a humanitarian, leader, and teacher.
Holding the camp was not a leisurely activity at all. The school had no air conditioning, the weather was sweltering hot, the vocal strain of teaching was taxing, and dehydration was a real threat. But pain is a tricky entity, as if you endure it, you can cash in some rewarding merits. What truly cemented from the sweltering heat, physical fatigue, and sweat was a true connection of two worlds – literally it is us extending a hand to the earthquake victims, and metaphorically it is America extending a hand to China and China embracing it and extending a hand back. So a very real theme in this camp was friendship, a universal concept that knows no bounds. Another theme in this event was that of your hometown – though I am technically American, both my parents are from Sichuan, and this is where my roots were planted and without it I would be a totally different person, including my entire physical makeup. Together with all this significance, the camp concluded as a huge success – with students even shedding tears in reluctance of separating from their American friends, and was the essence of the whole trip. We were even on the news!
After the trip it took me a long time to feel untouched by it. For me, it was the most profound trip I went on, with many endearing themes. For days afterward, I couldn’t sleep without aching of my family, friends, and the beautifulness of my home out east.
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