So I’m still trying to find the right words to describe all of the things that have happened in the past few days. I climbed the Great Wall of China (in the essence of Mulan, of course), I was swarmed by a large group of tiny Chinese girls wanting pictures and hugs, which I didn’t even know was a dream of mine until it happened, I fell down some stairs (it stunk), I had a picnic at the Emperor’s Summer Palace with my wonderful friends, and I finished up camp #2 of 4!
There have been so many wonderful times and crazy experiences that writing these blog posts is becoming more and more challenging. I’m actually having to process these experiences well enough to tell you all about them, which is probably a good thing. Oh! I forgot a very important thing on that list of things I’ve done, I also ACCEPTED MY INVITATION TO PEACE CORPS COSTA RICA. Holey Moley. I’m just praying I’ll be able to play with a plethora of adorable Costa Rican babies in addition to all the other cool stuff I’ll get to experience.
Okay, so I’ll try to start where I left off last time. One of the assignments on the last day of class was for my students to pick one of their teachers or TAs (teaching assistants) to write a letter to. By this day in camp, their English and writing have improved significantly so I love reading their letters and seeing how much they’ve grown. But! It’s even more exciting when I get a handful of letters that are full of kind words and excitement directed towards me. These kids are incredible and reading their words about how proud of themselves they are makes my heart so happy. Honestly, this was the day that I decided to commit to Peace Corps because seeing the difference I was making on this small camp made me realize the potential I would have with an organization like Peace Corps, and that makes me SO excited.
Some of the phrases the students included in their letters helped me to realize the important things in education and overall encouragement/confidence building, which is a huge part of writing and honestly growing up. For example, one student wrote, “You always encourage us and it makes me believe in myself.” And another one said “you listened carefully to everyone, whether or not he/she was good at English.” And my personal favorite, “You like to smile, and when I saw you smile, I felt warm. You must have a hot heart!” The author of this uplifting letter went on to explain “you look beautiful, but your heart is much more beautiful than your body.” Now if we’re being honest, that letter still makes me tear up a little just because that sweet, sweet girl was able to help me feel better about myself for the right reasons, having what she thinks of as a ‘hot’ heart 😉
Anyways, camp has been incredible. Although there have been challenges, just like I know there will be challenges in my decision to commit to Peace Corps, I’m also realizing it’s much more important to focus on my abilities to change the world than the tough days that will be scattered about. As I was explaining to one of the TAs who was really struggling with self-confidence, every person is created intentionally and purposefully. There were no mistakes in how you were put together. But! You have to also believe in yourself to really accomplish the things you were created to do. I’m slowly starting to work on that in myself as well Praise Jesus. It’s taken a good while for me to begin to learn that lesson.
Now on to more fun things! I CLIMBED THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA YESTERDAY!!!
I don’t know how else to say that. It was incredible. And completely illogical. In all seriousness, I don’t know what their thought process was when they put that thing together because it is random insanely steep staircases mixed with the occasional ramp and all together a giant zig-zag, but it was awesome. I had a blast with the fellow teachers. We were all laughing as we tried to navigate the stairs that we were literally climbing at some parts and we continued to laugh as we essentially skied down some of the ramps. What made matters more interesting was the constant stream of people wanting to take pictures of some of us. It was a hoot. But I did get to talk to a bunch of very sweet strangers and give high-fives to adorable littles, so there were no complaints from me.
After that, we took a quick rest and then headed back out to the Summer Palace! This place was created by one of the Emperor’s I think around 2,000 years ago as a summer getaway. It was beautiful. There is a giant man-made lake with lots of Temples and mountains and flowers. I loved it. We explored and took pictures and then finished our evening with a picnic by the lake. It was by far my favorite day in China. It helped me to remember why I love traveling so much, even though I miss my family and friends. Another cool part of the Summer Palace is the concrete boat that the Emperor had built. The boat was built in response to the saying about how too much of anything can be harmful; water can keep your boat afloat and take you many places, but it can also flip your boat and cause disaster if it becomes out of control. The story kinda stuck with me and made me think about how that sentiment could apply to other areas of my life. This has certainly been a trip of growth for me.
So again, I love and miss everyone back home very much but I’m also having a really good time here in China. Please continue to keep in touch and know that I’m thinking about you often. Xoxo!
Ps-Some of my students got together and gave me a Chinese name! It’s hú dié, which is Chinese for butterfly. I smiled so big.