By Anabelle Mandel
On June 29th, 2018, every exhausted but excited student of the National Security Initiative for Youth program safely arrived at the Hilton Newark Airport in Newark, New Jersey to begin the 2018 NSLI-Y summer program in Xiamen, China! Beginning at 9:00 am the next morning, the Pre-Departure Orientation was kicked off by Dr. Jianguo Chen, Director of the program, with a detailed overview of the program in China. This included the tentative schedule of the overall program, from the layout of the significant trips to Shanghai and Beijing, all the way to what the basic daily schedule of the students’ lives at Xiamen University will look like. The overview of the program also included important information regarding how the language immersion program will proceed with the students being divided into 3 Chinese courses (elementary, intermediate, and low-advanced levels) and taught from there. Dr. Chen also went over safety rules and the code of conduct expected from every student brought into this prestigious program. All throughout the orientation, Dr. Chen went over his past experiences from earlier years of the program and entertained the students with fascinating stories of previous NSLI-Y students. These stories were not only funny and shocking, but also inspiring to many of the eager and high-achieving students here this summer, who got an insight into how this program can be used as an opportunity to develop their self-confidence and leadership skills.
Two of the admirable alumni mentioned from the stories, Skyelar Raiti and Dennis Rice, shared their own experiences from a summer in China with NSLI-Y. The event that seemed to be the main focus of both alumni was the last two weeks of the stay in Xiamen: staying with the host family. Both Dennis and Skyelar shared their insights on homestay and advice about how to turn it into a rewarding experience.
After a long day of the program, the Pre-Departure Orientation successfully came to a close. All of us students felt better prepared now and were anxious to start a much anticipated study abroad trip to China. In their participation, the students of the 2018 UDNSLI-Y will do their best in learning Chinese and embracing Chinese culture. A special thanks to not only Dr. Jianguo Chen, Ms. Jinmin Ren, the University of Delaware, and the U.S. Department of State for hosting this amazing program and giving us all a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but also to our parents and guardians for all of the support we have gotten that allowed us to be here today.
After a long flight of about 14 hours, the program arrived at Shanghai Pudong International Airport safe and sound on the afternoon of July 2. Excited, all the students were anxious to start the program in China and look forward to experience China on first-hand basis.