Sunday, November 1, 2009

Back to China!!!

Ni hao! Great news! I am going BACK to China this summer to assist in this year's GIEU Tianjin trip! My position lies somewhere between student fellow and site leader and I will be assisting Dr. Larry Gant (the professor who led our trip last year) with the planning and execution for this year's excursion.

The focus of the group is nearly identical to what we did last year: Teaching conversational English to middle/high school and undergraduate students in Tianjin, China using the mediums of the fine arts. This year, however, the trip extends beyond Beijing and Tianjin to include Shanghai as well as Hong Kong. I AM BEYOND EXCITED.

The trip begins in Tianjin (about 2.5 hours southeast of Beijing) at Tianjin Normal University (TNU). We will teach for about 22 days in both the college and a local middle/high school. I will be leading the dance portion of the teaching modules again but with a greater focus on hip hop as both a teaching tool as well as a means of communication. I will also be instructing lessons on photography. Between teaching and classes in Tianjin, the group will take the bullet train back and forth to Beijing to site-see (I'm not sure what sites yet, but I'm sure it will include the Great Wall, Olympic Village, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, etc.). We will also experience traditional Chinese performances (opera, acrobatics, etc.) similar to last year, to develop a greater awareness and appreciation for ancient Chinese culture.

Post Tianjin, we will fly to Shanghai for about 5 days. We will go to the World Expo! ( The expo brings many countries together and is all about sustainable and harmonious urban living. Over 7 million visitors are expected to visit the expo between May 1-October 31, 2010. We are in the process of contacting the U.S. Representatives about volunteering at the U.S. Pavilion (! If we are granted permission to volunteer, this would be a HUGE opportunity for students to make international contacts, talk with people from all over the world and share our knowledge and experience on sustainability, team work, and health. I have absolutely no idea what we would do if we volunteered (it could be picking up trash for all I know) but the goal is to be involved in the expo with the U.S. Pavilion. In addition to the World Expo, we may volunteer at a few AIDS organizations in the local area. Activities are TBD. Also in Shanghai, we may take a day trip or two outside of the city to Hangzhou or Suzhou like I did last year. It gives a very different perspective of China as the rural parts are often extremely impoverished but contain a vast amount of beauty.

Following Shanghai, we will fly to Hong Kong!!! Hong Kong is quite possibly the best city in the entire world for its public transportation, food, friendly atmosphere, shopping and melting pot of cultures. I adore Hong Kong and am reveling in the opportunity to go back. We will stay in the city (probably in hostels) and work with AIDS organizations yet again. I'm not sure if we'll be using our fine arts modules to communicate or what exactly, but we'll spend the remaining 4-5 days working in the city.

From Hong Kong, I will fly home. No Thailand for me this year. I am still working to make up for the money I spent last year on my adventures. While I would give anything to go back to Thailand, because I feel like that country changed my life and world perspectives, I just do not have the money or time to make the money to go back right now. (I am, however, looking into a teaching program to teach English as a Second Language in Bangkok for a year after I graduate. Details to come in a year).

So that's it! Another 4 weeks in China this summer! I have a TON to do and plan between now and then but it will all be joy, I'm sure. While structurally, the trip is about 80% the same as it was for me last year, this year will give me a completely different perspective being on the leading side of it. I am excited for the challenge and welcome the undertaking with big, wide open arms.

Until next time,
Mo Chou

Tianjin is pretty far north in the country.

But it's not too far from Beijing. Especially when taking the bullet train at 150mph!

This summer, we're pretty much visiting the entire east/southeast side of the country - Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

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