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Students visit China Summer 2018

Jada Caldwell

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For two weeks over the summer, around 30 Wake Forest students traveled to China, where they immersed themselves in Chinese culture and language.

Tacito George, a math teacher, thought it was an important trip for our students to go on, so that they would be able to understand what a tourist or immigrant in America has to adapt to.

“Being in another country and not knowing the language just gives you a feeling of when someone comes over here from another country and doesn’t know the language,” George said.

Senior Sarah Bryant shares that the people that went solidified her decision to attend.

“Originally, my friend Mayla, who had graduated, was going to go on the trip, but she ended up not going. She was the initial reason I wanted to go on the trip because I would know someone. As the meetings for the trip progressed, I got to meet more people. It was like ‘Oh, I know you. You’re going on this trip?’ Bryant said. “So, the deciding factor was Mayla and going with my friends. Afterwards, it was as if the people I had met reinforced that decision.”

Chloe Mair, junior explained that ultimately she decided to go because of how different China is from America and Europe. It felt like an entirely new experience.

Due to her ethnicity, lingual differences had a significant influence on sophomore Elizabeth Ballou’s experience.

“It impacted me a lot. In China, I look like one of the locals. So, I got really mixed results. I stayed within my group mostly, so I spoke a lot of English, but there were a few occasions where I did get spoken to in Chinese, and I didn’t know how to respond. I felt a little bad. In China, you do learn English in school, but not everyone retains it, so it was really hard to try and communicate in a language that they might have forgotten and in another language that I am not very knowledgeable in,” Ballou said.

For Bryant, the lingual and cultural barriers added a comical aspect to the tour.

“In China, of course, they speak Mandarin and everything is in Mandarin. We have shirts with the Chinese characters on it. They have shirts with English words on it. We saw this one shirt when we were on Nanjing Road at a Forever 21 or something and the word on it was ‘disappointed,’” Bryant said. “Nobody knew what this word meant except for the students because they’re required to take English, but if you didn’t continue with it then you didn’t know what the word meant. There were people wearing shirts that just said random English phrases.”

Ballou’s favorite part wasn’t a typical monument or tourist destination.

“My favorite thing about the trip was probably the streets or the marketplaces. The marketplaces were really interesting. It’s very different than here, than walking on the streets and seeing the buildings. Some of them were just set up outside,” Ballou said. “You saw some things that they probably wouldn’t have allowed here. There were animal carcasses hanging from the top of the marketplaces and they were just cutting off a piece of the animal and selling it.”

For Mair, it was an eye-opening experience.

“I was personally impacted by this trip because you don’t completely understand others’ cultures until you’re submerged in it, and truly know about it,” Mair said.

Bryant describes the trip as culturally enriching and suggests travel of any type to anyone.

Bryant said, “It was really cool that we got to experience the culture, experience the language, and we even got to learn some phrases. I would highly recommend international travel to anyone, but if you can’t afford it, then definitely domestic travel or traveling with the school.”

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Students visit China Summer 2018