By Casey Mook

I came here with goals of improving my mandarin Chinese, to learn a new culture, and to try something new. After being with these new people who I never met before this thrilling experience, I see now that there are tons of kids just like me with similar goals and dreams. The only difference is we came from all over the U.S to do something truly amazing with a generous program.  I have seen and learned so much already not just about Chinese but their people. Now that I will be making Chinese friends every time I have dinner, it makes me excited for the good times and relationships that will be created for the future. This program can be seen as more than bringing kids to China to learn Chinese, but also as bringing people together to encourage diversity. Every time I leave the U.S.A. bubble of English and American culture I see the new faces that are three feet away from me every time I go to the dining hall. This program is not about individual people learning Chinese but about a large group of people coming together from different places and cultures to learn Chinese and create an everlasting bond. That’s why this program is about the people which is why every day I am happy to grow closer to each person near me, even the ones I haven’t met yet.

Today I woke up and the sky was the clearest I have seen since arriving here. The first model school day was today and I think I and most others can say they don’t have jet lag, so hopefully people won’t be falling asleep at 7 like I did every night so far. Its 8:30 now so this is a new record for me. My favorite food here or at least the thing I have eaten the most is like a chocolatey muffin and today for the first time they didn’t have it for breakfast. Besides that we got to do our interest group for the first time and tai qi fan was quite painful and fun, I don’t know what the other groups did but I know what they are. The other two groups are shadow puppets and long-sleeve dance. Today we learned what our warm up will be every day this week and also some technique that is slightly painful for the inflexible and weak. In culture Class we learned a lot about China’s culture and I understand how important it is for us to learn their culture and learn it well. Seeing how it is 9 and I am really tired and I want to sleep I still must be jet lagged so hopefully tomorrow will be the day that I don’t feel jet lagged.