When the whole ACE in China crew (except Jenna, who flew from Hawaii) boarded the plane at SFO headed for China, we were all excited to finally start our journey together. We were all getting comfortable in our seats and getting ready for the 14-hour flight ahead of us to Chengdu. Then a lady stood up to take a picture of what we assumed was her family sitting in the row directly in front of me Zeke, Tanner, and Ryan. We jokingly smiled for the photo as she raised the camera to her eye, then seeing us smiling, she laughed and said, “Ha ha! You guys can get in the photo, too. I have never seen this many foreigners on flight before.”
Then it dawned on me … we were “foreigners.” This was something that I have never really experienced before. I had not been out the country much before this trip, and when I had I never really felt like a foreigner. So this was a new title for me. It was scary, but at the same time incredibly exciting.
Then it dawned on me … we were “foreigners.” This was something that I have never really experienced before. I had not been out the country much before this trip, and when I had I never really felt like a foreigner.
The notion of being foreigners was only strengthened when we drove through the streets of Chengdu, getting our first glimpses of a country and culture drastically different from our own. I kept finding myself wondering: “Where the heck am I?” and “What the heck am I doing here?”
Where the heck am I?: I am in China, halfway across the world, in the Yunnan province, just outside the city of Shangri-La in the CERS complex.
What the heck am I doing here?: I am working through the ACE, VIA, and CERS to design and work a 6-day summer camp for the local kids as well as teach some English classes, help design some museum exhibits, and work with local organic framers in town.
Those are strictly the literal answers to “where am I, and what am I doing here.” However, the figurative, and much more meaningful answers to those questions will be what I explore throughout the rest of my time here.