When your boss says we need you to go to China, you say, “Yes, sir!” Well, that was at least my response just weeks ago. My trip to China was a whirlwind. From applying for and receiving a Chinese Visa (i.e., good for 10 years – yay!), to conducting student interviews and school presentations in China and coordinating with Chinese Student Agents, my trip was successful and productive. Furthermore, soaking in the local vibes, landscapes, and settings has given me a new perspective of China and its people.
How do you swiftly prepare for significant global travel? First of all, make certain you have a passport! After this requirement, for other countries like China, you also need their Chinese Visa Acceptance. Next, review your medications. For me, this entails having motion sickness OTC pills. It just takes one or two bad bouts in your body and in the air, and you’ll down Dramamine every time, too!
Also, remember to pack light. It is ideal to avoid baggage check-in. Not only can you feel easy knowing your bags won’t get lost, but you save time when skipping the baggage carousels after your arrival. In regards to clothing, two pairs of shoes should suffice, plenty of socks and underwear, 1 belt, work pants, dress shirts, a tie, sports jacket, lounge pants, tee shirts, and a bathing suit was all I needed. For toiletries, I packed my shaving bag, house dental care, along with the typical necessities. Also, try only carrying an Ipad and cell phone, or if an all pleasure trip, just your cell.
Now, it is important to remember that we’re traveling on a plane from one continent to another, staying in the air for around 13 hours. This may bring angst to some. Having long airport layovers and prospects of middle seats can suck your chi if you let it! Stay Zen, my friend. Stay Zen! Have your best earbuds, plug in and escape with music, movies, and shows. You’ll be fed 3 square meals, plus snacks and drinks. Oh, if you’re shellfish intolerant, watch out for shrimp and crab in some in-air meals! If you’re allergic to peanuts, I recommend you research beforehand to fully safeguard yourself.
There are many outstanding and grand hotels in large Chinese cities, like in my visited cities of Chengdu and Xiamen. My two hotel rooms on this trip both had US 2-prong outlets, to keep my Ipad and cell phone charged, and I had checked online beforehand to know I wouldn’t need to carry a converter. In case you’re wondering, all the bathrooms had standard American toilets. A friend had asked me if I’d need to squat! Hardly! No extra toilet paper needed, either, despite what one website said. All bathrooms were actually really clean and above standard.
China is modern, vast and full of people of every personality and ilk. Amazingly, Chengdu and Xiamen are top 20 population world cities! Who knew?! My sightseeing included Chengdu’s huge Panda Park, where I snapped some great panda pics! Finding many delicious Chinese restaurant meals, including hot pot and dim sum, kept me sated and serene.
A reflective moment for me on this trip was by way of watching so many happy seeming Chinese men, women, girls and boys. Designer labels, jewelry, makeup and hairstyles displayed a culture eager for chic consumption we call Westernization. I see global citizens moving forward in masses. My perspective reminds me that a US-centric world view fades in fact when I embrace all that is China.
Our US School Fairs had me meeting with and interviewing a good number of Chinese students. Each student already had a completed Student Interview Card and I had planned consistent questions for each student. My Ipad allowed for paperless notetaking on my part, as I analyzed student ability to understand all questions and answer appropriately. A Chinese colleague was always present, too, recording all student responses. This went well and included a picture of the student and me.
Further, I got to make PowerPoint presentations to Chinese students, their families, and partner Chinese Student Agents. There were numerous pictures of happy US high school students, representing sports, clubs, teams and academic achievement. We also included pictures of our represented US city, the US school buildings, and facilities. This was a good time to also discuss the typical school schedule of 7:40 – 2:10, noting it's being an easier schedule than the average Chinese school schedule at the same grade level. I also stressed that part of my overall role includes ESL teaching and after-school academic support. I even had a student testimonial to share, explaining that a testimonial is when you note all positive aspects of something.
Some questions posed by Chinese students and their parents at the fair included wondering of AP course offerings. With Chinese students focused on their goal of a US university acceptance, they know they may earn coveted college credits by succeeding in AP classes. I explained further that my represented school also has honors, accelerated and college prep categories of high school courses, even offering some Virtual High School options.
Overall, the Chinese students and their families left the event knowing lots more of what the US high school experience is like. Numbers of students interviewed even received the valuable conditional acceptance letter from me, on behalf of my represented school. This, of course, means they may truly take the plunge and move forward with studying in the US. The ideal of an enlightened global citizenry lives on!