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A Week in China

November 4, 2016

 "Traveling - it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller."

Ibn Battuta

 

Hey loves!

 

If I had to describe this week in one word, I would choose instructive. This week, I learned a lot and I still can't believe all the things I've experienced. As I told you guys in my last article, I went to China this week. To be more precise, a city called Nanning. We went there by train and we went there to work in a local boarding school. The boarding school is a girls school and it is a charity school. When I came to Nanning, I did not really know what the school would be like and what to expect from the week.

 

On Monday, we started teaching in the school. When we got there, I was honestly shocked. The school's building wouldn't be accepted as a school in Germany - the toilets there didn't have doors (if you can call them toilets), the classrooms didn't look good and there were rats. Although this doesn't sound good, the girls who go to the school are super motivated and thankful for going to this school. 

 

Seeing them being so motivated in such a bad environment made me realise what opportunities I've always taken for granted. I took it for granted that I could attend a school with a modern gym, normal toilets and to receive the level of education I received. When I talked to the girls in the school, I realised how bad their English is and this showed me the real meaning of education. Education is not about learning formulas that you forget after you have taken a test. Education is about enabling you to connect with other parts of the world. Education is supposed to open doors for you. It can be your chance to travel, study or live abroad. But with poor English, it is quite hard to be somewhere else than in the country where your mother tongue is spoken. 

 

I have to say that the school is in a rural area and this probably affects the level of education the girls receive, but this is not a legitimate excuse. I refuse to accept that where you were born and how rich your parents are defines your chances in life. This is not right. This was one of the reasons for which I applied to UWC. People from all backgrounds can apply and the financial situation of your parents doesn't decide whether you can attend a UWC or not. 

 

When being at LPC, it is quite easy to forget what it is like for other children around the globe because you live in this little bubble where everyone around you has access to the same education as you do. Traveling to China definitely opened my eyes on what education can look like in other parts of the world. Before having been to Nanning, I would not have expected that a school like this really exists, but it does. Coming from the German school system, a school with rats and toilets without doors is something that I couldn't even imagine.

 

Being there made me be a lot more thankful for how I grew up and for what I have. Talking with the girls from the school showed me how important education is because it is the only way to connect with other parts of the world. And I also learned that a language that is internationally understood is kindness. It may have been hard for me and the students from the school to communicate, but it was very easy to like each other. They welcomed us with a sign dance and a fan dance. The students have always been very willing to help and learn. At our last day, they also gave us some gifts. They made stamps for us out of erasers and one of the girls made a hair ribbon for me. Saying goodbye to the girls was quite hard because I could feel how happy they were because we were there and it was sad to say goodbye. 

 

When we had finished teaching, we had one day left which we spent at a waterfall on the boarder to Vietnam. The waterfall is amazing and it is super beautiful! We had a great time there and all of us enjoyed seeing the waterfall. I attached a couple of pictures from this little adventure for you guys. It was my first time at a waterfall and it is really impressive. We took a little boat that enabled us to get very close to the waterfall and it is impossible to describe the feeling you have when you stand there and water is literally everywhere around you and you can hear the water and you can feel the wind from the waterfall. 

 

I decided to give you guys a little bit of advice for traveling to China: Paying with a foreign bank card can be a challenge, so you better bring some cash. I own a Master Card and I could get some cash at the Agricultural Bank Of China but not all banks accept foreign cards. When you aren't asian, be prepared for people staring at you. I felt quite weird in the first hours and it did honestly not really go away. Some people just stare, but others are less polite and even take pictures of you without your permission. This did honestly shock me and I wasn't prepared for that. But on the other hand, China is amazing. It is a totally different culture, you get to know a different way of living and you can see how a country with incredibly many inhabitants works. And if you get the chance to visit a school in a rural area, go for it! You may be speechless at first but it will open your eyes and change your view on your life.

 

Lots of love,

 

Elena

 

 

 

 

 The title picture was taken by 杨盈丝 and the photo of me in front of the waterfall was taken by Ismael C. 

 

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