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Headed into my ACE in China experience, I really only had one small worry on my mind.  Our destination, Shangri-La, was going to be unlike anywhere I had ever traveled to before.  Going into a place where the language and culture were so different definitely left me with many questions.  Would I be able to communicate with people?  Would I enjoy the food?  What would be the differences between my culture and our students’ way of life?  The list went on.

“I feel better equipped to tackle any new challenge or opportunity that presents itself in the future.”

After completing my travels, my answers to those questions started to align with a mindset that was reinforced throughout my ACE experience – an open mindset.  When I first woke up in Shangri-La, my initial reaction was to compare everything to Western culture and to find all the differences. However, I quickly remembered that this is not what I should be doing.  Instead, I began to look at the “differences” as unique characteristics. Everything that was a part of the culture in Shangri-La was normal to everyone living there.  Everything that appeared new to me was something that was very practical for everyone living there.  This big takeaway helped me to feel more comfortable in situations that I wasn’t fully comfortable with at first.

Through immersing myself in the culture and connecting with the local people, I learned so much about the significance of Shangri-La. I also had the amazing opportunity to explore the vast beauty and history in Shangri-La.  Personally, I feel that I’ve grown as a person all around.  I feel better equipped to tackle any new challenge or opportunity that presents itself in the future. These past three weeks have been unforgettable.

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