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Settling into RDFZ

Today we settled into the dorms at RDFZ and got a taste for how the boarding school life compares in China. After arriving at the dorms, we took a tour of campus and tested our gaming skills in a virtual reality class. Later in the afternoon, we explored a local supermarket to stock up on snacks and breakfast foods before returning to campus in the afternoon for a seal cutting class. Here, we learned to write our names in Chinese characters and created a stamp of the name by carving into a block of stone. We closed out our day with our lovely hosts from RDFZ at a formal dinner at nearby Renmin University, the university with which RDFZ is affiliated.

Some students shared their highlights from the day – clearly the trip to the supermarket was a favorite! We are excited to dive into more classes tomorrow.

“My highlight was going to the market. The size of it was amazing, and it was jam-packed with an assortment of everything, from all over the world. There were tons of options and foods I had never seen before.” -Callie G.

“My highlight of the day was getting to have a VR lesson. It was so cool to see how different the equipment is from what we use in the U.S. for VR. It was also fascinating to see the work of students and all the effort they put into making the VR worlds to show us. They had Chinese signs and English translations that demonstrated their knowledge of both languages and how aware they were that we in fact would be seeing them.” -Melina B.

“Today my highlight was going to the market which was a really nice walk from the school. We went as a group to get breakfast for the next few mornings. I thought it was cool to see how different all the food is here compared to the United States and I am looking forward to trying more of it!” -Ana B.

“My highlight of today was walking to the market because I really got to experience the busyness of Beijing. It was fun seeing all the cool buildings and passing by strangers who would smile and wave. It was nice comparing their cities to ours and seeing how their architecture differs from ours as well. This was my highlight because it made me feel a part of the crowd. It opened my eyes to how large the population is and how different yet the same every building is. It also helped that it was such a beautiful day out!” -Kyla G.



Hitting the ground running

Today we woke up around 7 am and had breakfast at our hotel before heading off on a big day of sightseeing and experiencing. We traveled for almost 24 hours to get to Beijing, and we are all so happy to be here. We got on our bus right after breakfast, and started our day. During our drive, Lynn (our tour guide) told us many stories of the history of China and explained the importance of the tree within China. The roots of the tree are in Xi’an, the trunk is in Beijing, and the branches and leaves are in Shanghai. We were most certainly on our way to experience the trunk of the tree, a day packed with activities all over. Our first stop of the day was the Summer Palace. As we walked through, we became truly immersed in the culture of historical China. A popular favorite moment was dancing with the retired women in one of the squares of the Summer Palace. After we walked around the palace we got on our bus and headed to lunch. After lunch, we drove about an hour to the Great Wall.

The Great Wall was immediately intimidating just by looking at it and we were all amazed by the awesome work that was put into building such a structure. We walked up the many steps of the wall to the top of our section. The steps were very uneven and it was a difficult climb, but we all did our very best to complete it. It was a truly life-changing experience. When we left the Great Wall, we headed to the 2008 Olympic Park and walked through the incredible, architecturally-advanced buildings. It was absolutely amazing to see such a special place. We finished our busy day by having an amazing peking duck dinner at a restaurant in the city. We are all tired and ready for a good night’s sleep before our busy day at RDFZ tomorrow.