I arrived in Beijing last night, and today was a whirlwind and my first full day in China! I learned today that Beijing has a motto, as seen in this flower display and on a sign in the subway: “Patriotism, Innovation, Inclusiveness, and Virtue.” I love that the second word in there is our school’s name. There are over a billion people in China, and they are certainly trying to do things in a new and creative way. That same spirit is why I love working at Innovation Academy.
Traveling here is different than any other place I have ever been. Yes, it’s crowded, polluted, and people shove to get where they are going… but there’s something magic here. I love it already.
I will be helping English speaking high school students from around the world learn about leadership and change-making as they explore China through language study, service, and cultural activities. I am so honored to be here. This is my first time in China, but I hope to share my love of global education, service, travel, and learning about other cultures with the students, who arrive on Sunday. I am working with a group of wonderful people who all speak fluent Mandarin, so I am confident that we are a solid team.
Today, our staff explored Beijing, visiting three of our community service sites where we will take students in the upcoming weeks. I tried to soak up the newness of this place, from the packed subway cars to the eco-farm where we’ll be helping to harvest peaches, if we are lucky. There were so many surprising sights, so I need to share just a few of my favorites:
Back in the United States, a taste of China is everywhere. We eat Chinese food, walk through Chinatown, go to school with Chinese friends, buy clothes made in China, and more. Being here makes me realize how much we are missing when we assume that we know China based on these things. Would someone who has watched MTV know the United States? What about someone who eats a hamburger and watches fireworks on the fourth of July? These countries are too big, too special, and too innovative to be stereotyped. China is ancient and modern, open and restrictive, clean and dirty, peaceful and busy, and many other ends of all sorts of spectrums. I can’t wait to explore it more.