• Posted on: July 15, 2014

[Think China 2014] Day 4 | Heroes Were Born!

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July 10, 2014

Authors: Lionel Gowans and Vanclee Pleasants, Jr.

Today was amazing. As the days progress I find that my excitement, enthusiasm, and desire to learn more about Chinese culture is increasing. Let me tell you why today was amazing. The first part of my day was at breakfast when we all ate in the Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) cafeteria. During our mentoring circle, Franklin, asked to form groups and discuss what we were taught about how to manage our money. I was in a group with Pen and Clayton and we all shared the key aspects of what we were taught about money management. Pen shared a mentor’s advice that resonated with everyone. He said “if you can’t buy it twice, then don’t buy it once.” That was sound advice because living in America and being in a consumer society, especially being a teenager or young adult, we often want to buy, buy, buy and don’t think or care about the important needs we have to meet that require money such as food, shelter, etc. I personally related to the quote, it caused me to re-evaluate my spending habits and learn to spend more wisely and not try to buy items that are too costly for my budget. Following breakfast we had our first lecture, Ethnic Minority & Social Harmony. In this lecture we spoke about ethnic minorities’ importance in China, ethnic distribution and more about the society of as a whole. The lecturer was very difficult to understand and I had a hard time understanding what the lecture was about because the presentation slides were mostly pictures. In our second lecture of the day, China’s Reform and the 18th Party Congress, we learned about the economy in before and after the reform, the 18th Congress of CPC and the challenges facing China’s future reform.

The second part of my amazing day was during our tour at the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. After taking our official group picture with our new shirts (shout out to Oaklandish) on we climbed as high as our bodies would let and as long as time allowed. At that point I made up in my mind that I would climb to the seventh platform. As I began my climb I knew it would be a difficult climb because of the steepness and the unevenness of the stairs, but I made up my mind before the climb and set a goal for myself and I was not going to let physical fatigue stop me. Long story short me, Cameron, and one of our hostesses, Karen, made it to the seventh platform first. I was exhausted but filled with pride and accomplishment. Not only was I climbing the Great Wall but I had climbed a significant portion of it. Another great moment that I didn’t personally get to witness was when Rodney walked back down the wall to the entrance because Jackson was beginning to struggle with breathing due to his asthma. That was very nice of him and I definitely commend him for that. A few facts I learned are that The Great Wall is 13,171 miles long, making it the longest wall in the world. It is made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood and much more. An interesting fact about the wall is that some of the that died in the process of building it were built into it, meaning that their bodies are in the wall. The sole purpose of the wall was to protect the Chinese Empire or its prototypical states against intrusions from military incursions by their neighbors. Lorenzo shared that “as an engineer and an architectural admirer, the Great Wall of was a must see for me, so I was very happy to see it and amazed at how large it actually was.”

Before we departed from the Great Wall I was able to grab some really cool gifts for back home. That entire 2 1/2 hour tour made the 14 hour flight, early wake up calls, stressful conversations, and hot weather all worth it. Although this trip is far from over I am quite satisfied with what I have experienced these past four days. On our way back to the city of Beijing, Franklin led another mentoring moment and facilitated a game that took some of us out of our comfort zone but was worthwhile. We were put in groups and had to come up with an 8-bar rap about our visit to the Great Wall. In my group I was the rapper, Cameron was the producer, Lorenzo was the dancer, Destin was the hype man, and Joshua Atkins was the hype man/dancer. Each group had only 15 min to come up with a rap. Several were shy, but cooperated anyway. Long story short my team won, but this moment wasn’t memorable for that reason. This moment was memorable because students like Joshua Akins who are usually quiet were able to express themselves in a comfortable space and have fun doing it. It also showed the creativity in many of us as well as the talent many of us have that we probably didn’t know we had. Joshua shared with me that “it was exciting to hear my team won.” The way he said it I could see that he was proud to be able to claim that and be a part of something like that. That was an exciting bus ride and a great way to engage everyone in something that benefited each of us as well. Later in the afternoon we were all treated to an acrobatic show at The Beijing Town Theater. I was told we would enjoy the show but I had no idea this performance would be this awesome. There were several acts that had me wide-eyed but my favorite was the act where there were several guys jumping very high through hoops doing flips, back flips, twists and turns through small loops. The way all the performers were able to contort their bodies was simply amazing. It was such a great show and had me on the edge of my seat (literally) the entire time. Now we’re back in the hotel and I’m exhausted and ready for another exciting opportunity to learn more about what this amazing city and culture has to offer.

Devonte was ecstatic to share “today was the best day so far! The Great Wall was officially added to one of the best moments of my life. I’ve always seen pictures of the Great Wall and imagined it as just a long wall that you walk but it was much more. I was able to challenge myself today by climbing pretty high up. Lastly, the rap battle was fun because I got to collaborate, and get to know the in my group better. The things I experienced today will stick to my memory for as long as I live and beyond! All in all, as Ice Cube would say, today was a good day.”

Today was a very memorable day. We all learned things we should apply to our future like taking on our fears and doing what think we can’t do like climb the Great Wall of China. Challenges that come our way should always be tackled even if you think you might lose the fight because today we took on a challenge and came out with a victory!


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