“Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. Involve me, I understand.” — Chinese Proverb
Why wasn’t my blog posted a week ago, along with most of the other students I had the privilege of spending three weeks in rural China with? No, I wasn’t able to convince Sam and the CERS staff to let me stay a week longer (though believe me, I tried). It wasn’t because of the jet lag or getting only one day at home before driving to Oregon and competing in a tournament. It wasn’t even due to my complete denial over this adventure coming to a close, although that is a very real thing. The real reason my blog is late: I didn’t know what to write.
I have been struggling to find the words to describe my experiences in Zhongdian.
How do I explain the value of a simple shell ring being given to me by a precious ten-year-old girl? Or my amazement as I looked around a formal Tibetan dining room while forcing down yak butter tea the mother of one of our students prepared especially for us. Not to mention the smile we all put on as she refilled our cups again. And again. And again.
I’ve sat at a blank computer screen trying to get words down that evoke the taste of yak hot pot and recreate hilarious moments around the dinner table. I’ve worked to paint a picture of the vibrant murals that blanketed the walls of the monasteries and shrines we visited and attempted to describe the feeling of pure bliss felt while Tibetan circle dancing in the middle of Old Town.
How do I portray the beauty and depth of the relationships built when spending every hour of every day for three weeks with a small group of people? How do I convey the difficulty in saying goodbye to a place that temporarily became a home?
No matter how hard I’ve tried, I can’t do these memories justice. I now realize there are some things that just need to be experienced firsthand.
While I love learning in a classroom, through reading books and articles, and from listening to a Ted Talk or a podcast, my time in China taught me that going out and seeing the world is not only the best way to learn, but the best way to feel and the best way to live. Don’t worry Mom and Dad – that doesn’t mean I’m dropping out of Stanford just yet. I’m just approaching my time with a new perspective.
While we were always busy, these past few weeks in China were the first time in a long time – certainly since deciding to pursue the path of a medical school bound Stanford student-athlete – that I didn’t feel like I was rushing through one task to get to the next, my thoughts always on things to come. Instead, I was fully present, immersed, and focused; able to give my all while still taking time to enjoy the little things.
I am excited to take this lifestyle and translate it to my time at Stanford and wherever else I may end up. I look forward to slowing things down, connecting with the people and the world around me. I now realize the importance of living in the moment so I can truly experience all the wonderful opportunities I have been given.
“As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life.” — Buddha
I went into this experience with an open mind and came out with a fuller heart.
Thank you ACE and CERS for this indescribable adventure.