My year in China challenged me in ways other than academic ones, and my goals were everything and nothing. My schedule, packed with Chinese classes, time in both of my NGO’s, dinners with the BY group, and cooking classes, turned out to be filled with both expected and unexpected outcomes. In Daoism, in order to achieve happiness we have to, contradictorily, consciously pursue unconscious consciousness, something known as wuwei, which translates to effortless action.
Our everyday is filled with excitements hard to express in mere words - from biking, walking or running through the city, to dancing, singing and cooking- separately or at the same time, from the places that have become home to the people that have become family. So we figured instead of trying to find the right words, we'd give you a quick peek into what our time here looks like - A Day in the Life.
Two incredibly eventful months here in China have already flown by, providing us with a lot to reflect upon. But the way in which we think about these memories has inevitably become infused with the Chinese language and culture that surrounds them, which is why in this first group update we have decided to focus on Mandarin words and phrases we find particularly meaningful. We hope these words open up our experiences to you as they have opened up a whole new world to us.
For our final update, we really wanted to display, rather than simply describe, what we learned and experienced in China. This video is titled “Five Things Your Guidebook Did Not Tell You About China” and in six short minutes, we attempt to show a few of the countless, memorable encounters and places we crossed during our Bridge Year.
We have grown to love the city of Kunming. Our large city, with a population of six million, fascinates us with its rich culture, which is a blending of modern developments and ancient traditions. We decided to each write about a different road in the city, and reflect on how these roads have contributed to our experience.
It is difficult to believe that we have already been in China for over two months. We came into this adventure, into this country, not really knowing what to expect. In some regards, that is still true—there is much left for us to learn here, and in fact, as time passes, our appreciation for how much there is still left to learn—about China’s language, history, culture, and people—only seems to grow. What these first two months have afforded us the chance to do, though, is to begin to ob
It was not until this year that I heard the expression 'Servant hearted'. I thought it was what I'd been doing for some time now, what I'd be doing for the next nine months. I'd interpreted this term at its most basic level: willing to serve no matter what the job was.
It seems that phrases get lost or abandoned as we leave childhood, even ones that defined the way we used to conceive of journeys and those accidental adventurers who took them. But when you’re entering a new culture, taking baby-steps in a far-off land, and in general experiencing many of the conditions endemic to those of a classic fairytale…certain childhood phrases are apt.
As I boarded the sleeper bus for the overnight ride to Yuanyang, a mystic Chinese township home to the most glorious rice-paddy terraces in the world, I could feel the adrenaline flowing through my hands and out through my legs. The bus was packed and humid, and I felt like I was suffocating in the sweat and body odor of those around me. But it didn’t matter.
We came to China for many reasons: to learn or perfect our Mandarin, to challenge ourselves, to be immersed in a new culture, to learn more about Chinese traditions, to commit ourselves to service, and more. Over the past five months we’ve learned so much, but perhaps the most important lessons have come, not in the form of a Chinese class, or a report written for an NGO, or even a celebration of a Chinese holiday...