1- What has it been like working with the student athletes from Duke and Stanford?
Hailee: I have really enjoyed working with other student athletes from a different university. It has been both fun and interesting to learn about the student athlete experience at Duke and compare and contrast it to the experience I have on the gymnastics team at Stanford. This group has bonded quickly and I am very grateful to be working with a bunch of like-minded, hardworking, and passionate people. Every member of this group has a different background and we have all been sharing with and learning from one another. I really appreciate the fact that we are capable of being both very serious or very goofy. I haven’t laughed this hard all summer! I plan on staying in contact with my ACE peers and hope to visit Duke sometime in the future.
Brandon: Before meeting everyone from Stanford I was a little worried that both groups from each school would stay to themselves and wouldn’t comfortably blend together, but after interacting, it was hard to determine what school everyone went to. We have a knack for finding random topics to debate or converse about that brought us closer together. We really created a special bond and shared our personal backgrounds with each other. I enjoyed learning about everyone’s different sports and their team’s atmosphere. It’s only been a few weeks and I feel like we’ve known each other for years. I’ll always consider this group my friends and hope we all meet up again in the states.
2- What is one difficulty you’ve encountered and how did you solve it?
Hailee: One difficulty I’ve encountered is overcoming the language barrier. At first, it seemed really difficult to communicate with the people here in the village, as my knowledge of the Chinese language and their knowledge of the English language are very limited. I found myself getting very frustrated with my inability to speak to all the people at CERS, especially the kitchen staff, who I appreciate and admire greatly. I also found it initially difficult to clearly communicate the specifics while attempting to explain a new activity to our students. To overcome this barrier, I have learned to communicate using gestures and simple English language. If this form of communication is still insufficient, I will utilize one of our Mandarin-speaking staff members for further explanation. Encountering this difficulty has taught me to successfully communicate in ways separate from verbal communication.
Brandon: I’d have to agree with the language barrier being the most difficult aspect of trying and overcoming. During the English/sports camp, one of the most difficult things for me was trying to understand why a kid didn’t want to do something or how to better explain a lesson/game we were trying to play. This also frustrated the kids, like when they tried to tell me something and I felt so useless in conversation. Later on in the camp, they started to use basic English wording and I tried to find better ways to get my points out other than speaking, such as demonstrations or hand motions. We also got a lot of help from two young girls from Kunming who would help us translate difficult concepts. This difficulty challenged me to improvise new ways to communicate. This also gave an importance and extra needed attention to each conversation that makes every interaction special.
3-What skills do you think you will bring back that will be useful for your participation in your sport?
Hailee: I anticipate that this experience will greatly affect my influence in the gym with my team. Participating in this program has helped me improve my leadership abilities, including my ability to promote a service oriented attitude and the importance of civic responsibility. My abilities to function as a member of a team have also greatly improved as well, and I will now be better at uniting team members to work together towards a common goal and help perpetuate the importance of using the student-athlete status for positive, progressive things. My emotional intelligence has become more experienced and my perspective worldlier. I will teach and encourage a strong sense of gratitude amongst my team.
“Participating in this program has helped me improve my leadership abilities, including my ability to promote a service oriented attitude and the importance of civic responsibility.” – Hailee
Brandon: I think one of the most important aspects of a team is having a strong team bond and chemistry, even in a sport like wrestling where the competition is, for the most, part individual. Having a strong bond makes it easier to work harder together during practices and gives everyone that extra motivation they might need to get that last point in a critical match. The group bonding we’ve done every day from exploring the environment around the Yunnan province to playing games in the glass gazebo has brought us together and made the camp days a lot more enjoyable when you are experiencing them with people you are comfortable with and enjoy to be around. These bonding experiences are definitely something I want to incorporate more into our team atmosphere.