On May 11, 2015, I joined a delegation of 14 students and three faculty for the Confucius Institute Summer Abroad in China program. From the time we left New Orleans until our return May 26, it was an unforgettable experience.Prior to the trip, Rongyao Wen, Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute and head of the 2015 summer camp, asked me to assume the position of Trip Captain.I gladly accepted this role because I simply love to lead. Before our group left, we had a final meeting and I could tell the majority of my peers were anxious and not exactly sure what to expect because of stories they had heard from previous participants. These feelings alone made this experience exhilarating.ChineseFest3

My experiences started once I arrived at the International Hotel on Hebei University’s campus, which looked similar to those in the U.S. The food that was prepared in the hotel’s restaurant was amazing and made our stay even more magnificent. Thanks to mandatory Mandarin courses here at Xavier, I wasn’t totally illiterate in the Chinese language. One thing that I and my peers took away from this trip, if nothing else, was removing ourselves from our American comfort zones. There was not a time I can remember when a Chinese student or resident was not taking a picture of me, with me, or of other members in my group. The people of Baoding City, our translators, the International Office staff at Hebei University, the students and those we also met in Beijing always made us feel welcomed. I have never met anyone so excited to meet me.

I hope to return to China very soon because I have fallen in love with the country, its language, and most importantly its people.I recommend this experience to anyone and everyone because you will not come back home the same person. You will have a completely different outlook on life.

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