Memories made in China; student loses hat to Great Wall


Maggie Conlon

Hannah Thomas (‘20) and Maggie Conlon (‘20) teach a little girl how to pose with the two finger peace sign. Qiu Qiu, the little girl pictured, posed with other BC students as well. Interactions with people in China was a plus during the trip.

Stephanie Chen, Editor-in-Chief

Hot. Humid. Amazing. Nervous. Exciting. These are the words students used to describe their expectations going into the 2018 Chinese trip. And these — the Great Wall of China, exploring the cities, monuments, historical landmarks, food — were what they were looking forward to. The students spent around a week in China, starting off in Beijing for three days before flying off to Xi’an for a day, and then taking a train to Shanghai, where they spent the remainder of the trip.
Students visited the Great Wall of China on their second day in Beijing, having spent the first day touring the city. They took the ski lift to its base, snapping pictures along the way. It was on this ski lift ride that Shweta Panda (‘20) lost her hat. Panda had been riding with Carli Ramon (‘20), who managed to capture the event on her GoPro as she recorded their journey up. Panda waved when the lens was turned on her, and in doing so, accidentally knocked her cap off her head and out into the abyss. “Obviously, I wasn’t too happy about it as my cap was new and pretty overpriced. Not only that, but my friends could not let go of the incident for the rest of the trip, which was totally uncalled for! Worst of all, it was on video, evidence of stupidity that would haunt me forever. In hindsight though, it was pretty funny. Bad publicity is still publicity, right?” Panda reflected. “Now I guess it forever lies there as a memory of my presence.” Despite the loss, Panda still named the Great Wall as the highlight of her trip. “Being able to see the tangible caliber of an empire thousands of years ago without technology blew my mind. Not only that, but it was so picturesque. Among mountains and tree tops in a dense forest stood this ancient wall with white butterflies fluttering through! It was one of those stand-still moments I will probably never forget.”

While the China trip did not involve a family stay, students were still able to immerse themselves in China’s culture through visiting different parts of the country and interacting with the people. When asked for a difference between China and America, Riley Feng (‘20) responded with the roads and traffic. Feng described China as a fast-paced environment with crazy roads. “It’s almost like there’s no rules because the amount of times I almost witnessed an accident is insane,” she commented. Feng also made note of the multitude of bikes, mopeds, and tiny cars she saw, some of which had their own designated lanes. Panda, on the other hand, was surprised by the friendliness of the people. She described the people in China as being welcoming. One particular instance Panda referred to was with a group of elderly people playing instruments and dancing. The dancers invited Panda and the others to join their circle, teaching them the steps and having them hum along when they didn’t know the words to the song.

While the students took memories of China’s culture with them, they also left some of their own behind. As a group of American tourists, they had teenagers running around the Great Wall doing backflips and the “Shoot Dance” and an inside joke from convincing their tourguide that “E” was a cool word to say in America. One funny story Feng recalls is when Maggie Conlon (‘20) tried to tell people that she was an American (mèi guó rén) in Mandarin. Due to her Chinese tones, Conlon ended up saying she was a beautiful dog person (méi gŏu rén) instead.

Overcoming the language barrier was one of the main takeaways Panda had from the trip. Although she found it intimidating to speak to actual Mandarin-speakers, Panda did her best to interact with as many people as possible. “I just thought to myself, I’m never going to see these people again, who cares if I embarrass myself? I definitely did not regret all the wonderful new memories I made. Now [I] have friends from Australia [I] made in Shanghai!”
Panda strongly recommends the trip to other students, saying “Learning in a classroom environment with planned texts and roles is completely different than using the language in real life. Obviously, everyone’s perception of China was a bit different but I can confidently say we all loved it! I feel ever so grateful to have the opportunity to explore the world with my friends!”