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When initially coming to China, there were many reasons to be excited: for example, new food, new people and a new way of life. All these things were in the forefront of my mind from the time I began to pack to the time we landed in Chengdu. Although all of these elements of the trip were experienced in full by myself and the rest of the team, these elements will most definitely not be the lasting thought or memory that will stay with me for years after this trip has come to a close.

The element of the trip that will stand the test of time in my memory will be the relationships that we as a team (and individually) have been able to make during our time here. The friendships and ties each member of our staff have been able to make with the locals are completely unlike any relationship I have ever made in my life. I think there’s something to be said for being able to create a relationship that breaks the barriers of a language and culture separated by the entire length of the Pacific Ocean. The bond is unlike any I’ve ever made, and it is quite indescribable — but then again, how could you expect to be able to verbally describe a relationship in which no words are are spoken? It’s almost as if each side has a mutual understanding and respect for the unknowns and differences between each individual. It’s incredible.

“Gratitude is inversely proportional to comfortability.”

I feel like sometimes we forget to express our gratitude for others who do so many things for us. But when you are unable to mundanely spit out the words “thank you,” and you are forced to use your emotions and facial expressions to communicate an appreciation for another person it just means that much more, and is received that much better. The little things like that really do go so much further than you could ever imagine.

To conclude, the quote that really sticks out in my mind and will stay with me from this trip is: “Gratitude is inversely proportional to comfortability.” That really resonated with me, and is one thing I know I will take back with me to the States which I hope to implement in many facets of my life. Just because you have become accustomed to something, or to someone else’s generosity, does not mean you should express your gratitude any less than you would to a complete stranger. So with that, thank you CERS staff, via leaders, Mr. Rubenstein and Mr. & Mrs. Bing, the Shangri-La community, and all my ACE team members for an incredible journey I am sure to never forget.

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