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The past week has been a completely bittersweet experience for me. I am truly amazed and sad that my three weeks with the group in China is officially over. Over the course of the last seven days, we have done some truly incredible things, whether it be visiting one of the largest monasteries in the area or circle dancing for an hour after we ate hot pot in Old Town.

One of the most striking memories from the past week was the last day of camp and the events that followed the closing ceremony. The excitement of the day had started as early as the prior morning, when we let the campers throw water balloons on the counselors. The water balloons were a bit of celebration for all the hard work they had put in learning throughout the camp.

On closing day, most of the campers showed up in traditional Tibetan dress. Most of the outfits were extremely colorful and intricate; they made it look like it was extremely challenging to get dressed. In addition, most of the girls had a certain type of headgear with a variety of different shapes and sizes of beads to go along with their outfits… some of the boys wore what looked like cowboy hats.

The morning kicked off at 9 am, just like all our other morning of camps. Everyone was in high spirits when we kicked off our day with the daily freeze dance to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” After that finished, the group of us Duke and Stanford student-athletes started the talent show, exhibiting a variety of different skills from short dance routines to walking on our hands or even a showcase of strength – lifting some of the kids. I memorized a short and funny dance with Amanda and Erika. The peels of laughter that encompassed the room showed that the kids got a lot of enjoyment out of our different acts.

Once all the different counselor acts finished, it was the kids’ turn. Aside from one or two acts that did some acrobatics (e.g. headstands and cartwheels), all of the campers sang traditional Tibetan songs – either by themselves or in a group. Some of the young boy campers had extremely good voices… it was amazing! I loved listening to the kids sing their songs because it was an interesting part of the culture that I hadn’t really gotten a chance to explore before. The personal touch of the kids we had been working with singing the songs to us made it even more special to me.

This portion of the camp continued for about an hour and a half or so. Upon the completion of the talent show portion of the last day of camp, we got to watch a really cool slideshow and spoof video of our different sports represented in ACE in China. The slideshow was a compilation of all the best photographs from the camp, which made me sad and happy all at once: I was sad that camp was coming to an end, but on the other hand, I was happy that I had gotten to create so many fantastic memories with the kids, CERS staff, and ACE group.

I loved listening to the kids sing their songs because it was an interesting part of the culture that I hadn’t really gotten a chance to explore before. The personal touch of the kids we had been working with singing the songs to us made it even more special to me.

To finish an unforgettable morning, some of the campers showed us around their homes within the village after finishing up at the CERS Center. In the village, visiting someone’s home was an honor as families only allowed people that they trusted and admired to visit them. Personally, I was lucky enough to see four different houses. Each of the houses had similarities because they were all built with the same Tibetan style. That being said, every house had its distinctive characteristics that set the home apart from the others. In my opinion, one of the most impressive parts of all the houses was the complex and intricate woodwork that was found almost everywhere in the house.

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