Westside School China 2017
April 14, 2017
We received word that the group has arrived safely to Beijing. They were greeted by their Global Works leaders Lisha and Emerson. It’s night time now in Beijing, so the group is getting some well deserved rest at the hotel. Tomorrow, more adventures await! We will keep you all updated along the way with photos and trip stories. With each update you will receive an email.
All is well in China!
April 15, 2017
After a full breakfast in the hotel we oriented the students to the local hutong area as we walked to the Lama Temple. At the temple, the students learned the meaning of various architectural elements while enjoying the impressive, massive, multi-storied statue carved out of a single tree. Then, we went to a dim sum restaurant where all of the students happily tucked into a large family style lunch (even the picky eaters were in full delight! – success!). Chopsticks lessons ensued and our Chinese words for the day were practiced. Then we strolled to a nearby park where we got schooled by a Tai Ji/Qi Gong master. Much laughter was shared and ice cream was happily enjoyed nearby afterwards. A warm evening breeze accompanied us back to the hotel where we enjoyed an authentic Ning Xia meal. A student, Nathan, made a wonderful toast thanking everyone for being on the trip. Then students played cards shortly before going to bed early after a long, full day.
– Emerson (Global Works Trip Leader)
Today was an interesting day. We walked around Yong He Gong and saw very large and detailed religious statues. We also ate lunch at jin ding xuan. Later on, we had tai chi/kung fu lessons. After that, we had dinner inside the hotel.
– Nathan and Cooper
April 16, 2017
Today in my room, we all woke up at 5 AM from the jet lag. We talked for a couple of hours and then went down for breakfast. By 9 AM everyone was downstairs and ready for today’s event, the big scavenger hunt. When we got to the place, everyone was given info on today’s events. We got into groups and then were off to the houtongs (the neighborhoods made up of alleyways)! My group was able to go explore the houtongs while keeping a competitive eye for the task at hand. We traveled the beautiful alleyways and saw the amazing culture and what the architecture brought to that. With our two guides, Mowgli and Colleen, we were able to stay safe while having plenty of fun. As everyone reconvened at the building we had first been debriefed at, everyone tallied up the points to see who our scavenger hunt’s winner was. We then moved on to a delicious dumpling lunch. Then we all were able to get on the subway and travel to the Beijing Community Corner. There, we talked to the elderly who were learning to speak English. It was a really unique experience. Overall, it was an amazing day here in Beijing.
On our third day of our trip, my classmates and I all had a quite groggy and sleepy morning. The weather seemed to mimic the group’s emotions. As it closer and closer to lunch, the sun peeked over the smog-ridden city. Not only was the weather enjoyable, but so were the many activities. The day started with us eating our breakfast of cereal, rice, buns, and boiled eggs. Following our meal, we made our way to Bamboo Bicycles Beijing. The name is quite self-explanatory, but in fact, we did not make bikes from bamboo. With new guides and a small tour of their office, we were split into five groups of five and assigned a new teacher. Our group’s leader was a happy, big smiles man named Steve. After about 45 minutes, the group found a playground and an ice cream shop. Olivia bought matcha ice cream and I ate almost all of it. For lunch, we made it to a dumpling restaurant where both Milo and Greg broke their chairs. Bets were made, dumplings were eaten…all in all, I liked the lunch. After two subways, we enter the FLAT class. Basically, this class is for older people to either learn or re-learn English. Talia and I sat next to three women who were so kind. Compliments went flying left and right. Eventually, we got to share both our knowledge and learn more from them. This experience was just really lovely and eye opening. In this class, not one person could stop smiling.
Today we started the day off with eating breakfast in the hotel. There are many different options to choose from. There’s everything from cereal and toast, to fried rice and steamed buns. I personally like the cereal, the steamed buns, and one of the dessert options that has red bean paste in it. After everyone finished breakfast, we went to Bamboo Bicycles Beijing to do a scavenger hunt around the hutong. For the scavenger hunt, we were all split up into 5 groups and were given a list of things that we had to find and take pictures of. Every group had a leader that was from BBB. My group ended up getting second to last, but we had a lot of fun. During the scavenger hunt, my group bought ice cream and we found many stores with fake Adidas. After the scavenger hunt, we walked to a restaurant to eat dumplings for lunch. The food was very good ,and I hope that we will get the chance to eat more dumplings. Later, we ended up taking a subway and going to a community center where retired people were learning English. Everyone got the opportunity to talk to some of the students who are learning English. I thought that it was really cool that we got to help other people learn English while they helped us learn more Chinese. After talking to the students, we took a picture with them and then went on the subway so that we could get back to our hotel. For dinner, we went to a restaurant where everyone got their own pot of boiling water to cook different vegetables, noodles and meat. It was a great day!
April 17, 2017
This morning we went to a school called Number 18 Beijing. It was really big and beautiful. We had interactions with a class that goes to the school. We talked to one another with the goal to learn what their life is like. Then we all went outside with the same class to have P.E. class together. We played basketball and it was so fun. I was on the team representing the USA. I had made a shot that was unbelievable because my form was totally off. Overall, our trip to the school was really fun and I hope to one day come back and visit the friends I made.
The Jing Shan park is a beautiful park set on a hill. At the top of the hill there was a beautiful red temple with bold, blue and green designs. The temple overlooks the entire city of Beijing but sadly we couldn’t see as much due to the smoggy conditions. However, it was amazing none the less. Inside the temple was a statue of Buddha decorated with traditional Chinese cloth. All around it were flowers and donations and it was a wonderful experience to be able to see and learn about this unique part of Beijing. After the walk up to the temple, we headed down to a lake to go boating. In teams of 4-6 we each got to rent either a paddle boat or motor boat to steer around the lake. The water was a nice green color and with a bit of ice cream and only a few crashes, we made it back to the docks in one piece. We then got back into town to have our first encounter with stinky tofu (which only a few people tried) and bubble tea. Both moments were unique, interesting and tasty but we quickly moved on to have a lovely dinner at a small restaurant in the hutong (older parts/alleys of Beijing). The food was delicious and consisted of fried cheese and tofu, spicy, wide noodles and a big seasoned fish as well as a few other things. Overall, today was a fun day full of funny moments and quality learning.
April 18, 2017
After breakfast, we got in the car and drove a couple of hours and went to a restaurant called Xiao Lu Mian and had Jia Jiang Mian. It was really good. After lunch, we had some time on the play area there and then wen to the Brickhouse and got a tour. The Brickhouse is a hotel that is owned by the same people as the restaurant. Then we were off to the Wall from the hotel. The Wall was quite close. Once we got there, we got in the bus and drove to the travel. We took the stairs to the top and walked around the top and took pictures. Once it was time to go, we slid down the slide. IT WAS SO FUN! We then had an hour to go souvenir shopping. We got to do a lot of bargaining. We then went to dinner and drove back to the hotel.
April 19, 2017
This morning the group split up. Half of the group went to learn how to make dumplings while the other half visited Bamboo Bicycles Beijing. We first learned how to make the dough, made up of flour and water. We learned that pouring the water into the flour wasn’t a very good idea. The dough was harder to knead and make soft. We learned hot to make different fillings: pork, beef, and vegetarian. Watching the teacher fold the dumplings and shape them made it look super easy, of course, it wasn’t. Many people’s first attempts were very interesting. Everyone managed to get the hang of it after a while. Eating the dumplings we made was so fun. People pointed out which ones they made and were so proud of their creations.
Today was different from the last because it was the first day the group really split up. Our group (this is Clayton and Drew, by the way) was led by Jeremy and Emerson and we went to Bamboo Bicycles Beijing where we met with several members of the staff to make an assortment of things with bamboo. At first, we all worked together to make a small lamp, and then we were set free to make whatever we wanted, whether it was a phone stand or a bamboo staff and we had an overall good time hanging out with the BBB staff. Everyone is having a great time and we hope you aren’t having too much fun with us anyway. Signing off- Bye!
– Clayton and Drew
In the afternoon, we toured the houtongs. On the tour, we were given a brief history lesson about “Old Beijing”. We started by looking at a large picture, it showed several scenes of what happened in Beijing before present day. The group then began walking around the houtongs. On the walk, we learned and saw many things. We learned that in Old Beijing people were taxed for almost everything. Overall, the walk was fun and informational.
April 20, 2017
The group split the morning again between the dumpling cooking and Bamboo Bicycle Beijing. In the afternoon we visited an orphanage. We hopped on the bus and took a 45 minute ride to a small orphanage for the physically and mentally disabled children. When we got off of the bus, we met the owner/builder. She explained to us how she created and has run the orphanage for the past 10 years, without any money from the the government, and only the help of her friends. Then we met the kids in the physical therapy room. One sang a song for us and we sang one for them. We played with the kids got to interact and get to know them. Then we headed out to the courtyard to listen to music and have snacks. Some of connected with a certain kids and formed close bonds. We gave them gifts and sadly had to say goodbye. We hopped back on the busand went to karaoke. At karaoke we broke back into our groups and went into two rooms that had a big screen tv, a disco ball, and some stools. The perfect set up for karaoke! We got to choose our music and sing to our hearts content. We had a great time and we’re glad to take a break and be goofy and have fun together.
-Ava and Quincy
April 21, 2017
We all had a wonderful final day with clear skies and sunshine in Beijing. We began by exploring Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City. Everyone was impressed by these famous sites with their rich history and grand spaciousness. Then we had a lovely duck lunch – a local speciality of Beijing. Afterwards, everyone had time to purchase souvenirs and gifts at the renowned Nan Luo Gu Xiang hutong area. Then we came back to the hotel to gives our shoutouts to the group for a great week and also pick up our bamboo creations from the other day. Finally, we had a classy last dinner out on the town at the DaLi Courtyard. The team who won the Forbidden City scavenger hunt enjoyed their ice cream prize after dinner. Lastly, we bought snacks for the plane ride and made sure everyone is packed for an early morning bus ride to the airport. What a great time in Beijing!