Monthly Archives: April 2017


This week’s reflection  comes from Naya L.

Throughout my time in Shenzhen and Hong Kong I had an amazing time meeting new people, seeing new things, and immersing myself in a new culture. My favorite part of the whole trip was our home stay. Being able to see how a family lives was amazing, and I bonded quickly with my host student, Florence. The first night we had a typical  dinner and then walked around her neighborhood to make sure we did not get too full. Earlier in the day we had walked to a mall from Florence’s house and seen her neighborhood. One thing that stood out to me was the different socioeconomic statuses that were streets apart from one another. There would be one street with large mansion like houses and another with abandoned houses. The one thing in common was that all around there were dogs  in each street.

The next morning we had a traditional brunch which consisted of chicken feet, cow stomach, fried rice, dumplings, and vegetables. After we went to the Window to the World park which was an amusement part with attractions imitating famous locations around the world. There was even an underground skiing man made mountain in the park. We then walked to a mall and had some dessert. After we got our nails done and went to meet Florence’s friend for dinner in Shenzhen. We had duck, something that was famous there, and after we took a cab back to Florence’s house. The next day after sleeping in we went to a grocery store and got some Chinese snacks before going to an oil painting village. We then were taken to get our hail washed. A lot of the girls and women get their hair washed and dried, because they don’t like to wash it. We had one last dinner with the family and the housekeeper the last night, and took a lot of pictures with us and the whole family.

Getting to know Florence, her family, and her friends was an incredibly meaningful experience. I was able to make friends while experiencing something so new and different. I am so glad to have been able to meet such amazing people in both Shenzhen and Hong Kong.


Here’s the latest reflection from Kayley G.!

Shenzhen provided me with an experience unparalleled to anything I had lived before. I Experience new food, music cultures and attitudes to everyday life. The attitude in particular interested me the most. The streets of Shenzhen are buzzing bustling roads filled with people in their own little worlds. From an outside perspective, the people seem unresponsive, and to consumed with what they are doing and going to care about those around them. However, in Shenzhen, people draw a very clear line between stranger and friend. When passing in the streets, people tend not to make contact. No one wants to get in anyone’s way, and people tend to rush past each other. On the contrast, once you pass the door into their house they are some of the most welcoming and kind people you will ever meet. When I first stepped into my host student’s house, which lay near the center of the city, I was immediately welcomed with tea, presents and lots of food. Her mother, one of the kindest people I have ever met, would encourage me to eat everything I could and was constantly topping up my plates. When we arrived back at the Shenzhen foreign language school, my host student Laura made sure I had everything I could ever need. During the school day we learnt lessons in their classrooms and ate lunch in their cafeteria, all the while checking in with out host students. Even after we left Shenzhen, many of us stayed in contact with our host students. In fact, I still message Laura to this day, and hope to see her again.



This week, our reflection comes from Lydia D.!

 Our trip to Shenzhen helped me to realize the true privilege of living in the United States. Living as a white, English-speaking, and upper middle-class citizen of a global superpower has given me innumerable advantages, most of which I was unaware of before traveling to China. One of these advantages is my access to a better education than the majority of the world’s population will ever receive.

Shenzhen Foreign Language School is one of the city’s most competitive schools, and all of our host students are part of its even more competitive English-speaking program, which only admits 100 out of the 1000 total students. The goal of the students in this special program is to attend college in the United States, which is an expectation that most Porter’s girls take for granted. However, the process of being accepted into an American college is much more difficult and strenuous for Chinese students than for American students. And, although the process is difficult, these students are committed to getting the best education possible, which they and their parents believe will be in America.

First, just like all applicants, international students have to take the SAT, and most of our host students attended Saturday classes to prepare, just like American students. But for the Chinese students, the SAT is in their second language, making the standardized test even more difficult for them than for the students whose first language is English. This would be like English-speaking students taking the SAT in Spanish or French. In addition to the SAT, Chinese students must take the TOEFL, the Test of English as a Foreign Language. This standardized test measures their fluency in English through listening, reading, speaking, and writing, and their scores will be sent to colleges along with their applications. Students will take classes outside of school and buy practice books to for prepare for this test, just like American students prepare for the SAT. The TOEFL is very similar to any AP Language exam, but Chinese students will take it as soon as 8th grade( for applying to high school in America).

Before getting to know my host student in Shenzhen, I had never considered the privilege of taking the SAT in my first language and not having colleges consider my fluency in English, let alone my nationality and the country that issued my passport, as part of my application. Now that I’ve gotten to know the intricacies of applying to an American school from a non-English-speaking country, I have so much more of an appreciation for international students and their incredible dedication to their education and for my privilege to have such easy access to higher level education in the United States.


This week’s reflection is from Betty B.

The one thing that stood out to me most about Chinese culture was how everything meant something. My host family was very traditional. For my first morning in China, they took me out to eat a traditional Cantonese breakfast. While we were eating, my host father examined my face. Through translations from my host student, Jean, I learned that every feature I had described a part of my personality; my face would dictate my past, present and future. According to him, I had intelligent eyes and an artistic nose.

Later on that weekend we went to a traditional Chinese doctor, who read my qi. In traditional Chinese culture and medicine, qi is a person’s life force: It is the energy that controls his or her being, made up of the more commonly known yin and yang (negative lunar energy and positive solar energy, respectively). It is essential to keep your qi balanced. If you are not balanced, you are either have too much water or too much fire. Although the doctor was impressed by my body’s strength and muscle build (which he accredited to America’s obsession with sports), my qi was slightly off balance. I had a little too much water in my system, which he decided was due to the fact that I, as an American, drink iced water rather than the typical hot water the Chinese drink (which is actually better for your system).

I was greatly intrigued by traditional medicine in China and how deeply many people believed in it. I got acupuncture and cupping done with Jean, neither of which resulted in a major difference I could feel, but it was a great experience nonetheless! In the US we don’t think so much about balancing the small things in our everyday lives, so it was refreshing to see how in my host family’s house, everything was laid out to follow feng shui. Every piece of furniture was placed in a particular place to maintain balance in the home. However fast-growing and highly-developing China is, tradition plays a crucial role in the heart of homes and of the people.