International Student Trips Powered By Discovery Education
Tiffany's Adventures in China

Post-Trip Reflections

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Throughout the course of this trip, learning about and observing China (both by sightseeing and participation) has been the main focus. However, I also realized and noticed some things about myself that I hadn't really considered in the past.

First of all, I have not always given much thought to my own Asian heritage--in fact, sometimes I despised it-- despised it because it seemed to drag me down all the time. In town where nearly 20% of the population is Korean, I felt somewhat faceless and at the same time somewhat ignored by the other Asians in the area. Not sharing a cultural history really added to that feeling of not having much of a common ground with nearly everyone in the town.

However, after this trip, I have found that my Chinese-Vietnamese background has such a rich history that I hadn't even dreamed of. There is nothing left to be ashamed about. The knowledge that my ethnicity has such a lengthy legacy and past no longer makes me feel left out but rather more unique.

Secondly, I realized that I never have to change who I am just to "fit in" with other people. I understand how cliche that phrase must sound, but it's completely and utterly true, especially when meeting other students that are very accepting of others (for instance, the other teenagers I met on the trip). Before the trip, I was somewhat nervous about meeting them; being the youngest on the adventure definitely added to this sense of not being able to connect with the others. However, I found that I could keep my somewhat laconic personality and still make good friends. (I was mostly apprehensive due to the fact that all the other non-Californian students had positions in student councils at their high schools... something I always kept in mind prior to the trip.) It just goes to show that with the right people, one never has to change his/her own personality or affinities just to "get along" with the rest.


On a side note..

While in China, I also observed the differences and similarities between our countries. The Chinese students we met in different places (most notably, the Small Dragon Martial Arts School) were incredibly disciplined. One might even call it startlingly disciplined. I mean, these kids could be so serious and so focused on their work that "Riley" Zhang Liang really summed it up when he said something along the lines of "These kids just go through the school system and come out like robots." Though some high schoolers here in the States do sometimes act the same way and follow the same trends (which, ironically, lose their "cool" factor soon after they comes into fashion), each student still has a distinct character and uniqueness; it just goes to show the ideals this country was built upon. It's remarkably different-- of course, the results of either school system reflect the type of government and history that each country possesses.

Of course, as time passed, I also grew to realize that China did have similarities to the US. Passing by normal, ordinary people doing everyday activities really opened my eyes to see that although thousands of miles separate two countries, the people have the same goals in life and the same aspirations. I sat at the bus window for hours and just watched people working, walking, and talking. It's really mostly the same, if you think about it. Perhaps the customs and traditions differ (such as openly spitting into the street or bowing respectfully to elderly people), but with respect to humankind, we're all the same. The ethnicity doesn't matter. The type of government doesn't matter. We are all people, and that does matter, because I believe that people forget that fact all too often and begin to say things like "Such-and-such people are all terrible and have no manners" or "such and such people don't know a thing about us--this food ain't like what it is at home!" This trip has brought me to the realization that even if people of other countries or even of other beliefs differ greatly, it doesn't make them any less worse or better than what we consider the "norm."

I'm extremely grateful and happy that I got to experience China, its beautiful history, traditions, and people (and yes, we experienced them-- we didn't just "see" them). I would like to thank Discovery Student Adventures with many, MANY thanks for this opportunity, for I have grown to appreciate both myself and the country where my roots belong. This is my heritage. This is history.

41 comments:

Karen said...

I must say I got a little teary-eyed when I read your post. Your adventure was life-changing. While that phrase seems so trite, it really says it all - your life has changed! You are no longer the same person you were before you went. Are you planning another trip with DSA?

Martha said...

Way to go, Tiffany. I think some of this you already knew deep down knowing some of your friends who, like you, dare to be different, dare to be themselves. 30 years later, the people I still keep in contact with are those who not only let me be myself but embraced me because of who I was/am. Bravo for allowing yourself to be you so you could find true friendship and allow others to be their true selves. I'm so glad you got to go on the trip ... and you shared your trip with us.

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Tro0223y_Millan said...

your son/daughter is so cute............................................................

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如果擬任為輸贏是最重要的事,那你輸了 ..................................................

向花 said...

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仇恨是一把雙刃劍,傷了別人,也傷了自己............................................................

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Essential Programs Details

Duration 15 days
When August 4th - 18th, 2009
Focus History/Culture
Martial Arts
Modern/Ancient Architecture