There are many benefits of teaching internationally at our school. One of them is without a doubt our annual China trips. Every grade level (except for senior IB students, whom everyone seems to want to make as miserable as possible) takes a trip in May to some part of China. I had the fortune of chaperoning the 7th grade trip to Yangshuo, China. I was supposed to go with the 8th graders to the tropical location of Hainan, but after learning that Yangshuo was the ‘outdoorsy’ trip, I realized that this was my place. We flew out of Shanghai at 7:00 AM on Monday, May 5. The plane was being flown by the father of one of our students. We took over the entire plane. I was surprised at how rowdy the students were during the flight. Flying was so common for them that they could not have been less concerned. I, on the other hand, was concerned enough for everyone. We arrived in Yangshuo and were met by our guides from Insight Adventures. Insight is a company that runs trips like this for schools all over China. Our guide’s name was Kevin, and he was awesome. Kevin was born in Southwestern China, but moved to Yangshuo for this job. After dropping our luggage off at our hotel, we immediately set off to the park for some group building games with Kevin. As you can see, Yangshuo is a beautiful place. Kevin is in the picture above, on the far right. After playing some games in the park, we went back to the hotel and checked into our rooms. We went to a nearby place for a family style Chinese dinner. The next day we had a TaiChi and Kung Fu lesson from Master Ping. Our session was three hours long, and really fun. I think we had an especially great group of kids, because they seemed to enjoy it as well. Master Ping was an intense man, but a good instructor. Master Ping started us off with Kung Fu because he thought the students would prefer that. We learned a 7 step routine, and had to do it in front of one another. The other teacher in my group and I were by far the best. After Kung Fu, we played a game where two people stood facing each other and held hands. You had to try to get the other person to move their feet, without letting go of their hand or moving your feet. I dominated the kids, but Master Ping used me as the example to teach the game. He dominated me. After Kung Fu, we did a relaxing TaiChi session. When walking around Shanghai in the morning, you can see a lot of older people doing TaiChi in the parks. I was very excited to learn how to do it. Master Ping showed us his TaiChi routine which was very impressive. The students then asked him to show us his Kung Fu, and they wanted him to use a weapon. Master Ping seemed to be pleased by that, and went to get his ceremonial sword. He then showed us his terrifying and awesome Kung Fu routine. I believe that Master Ping could have killed me with his hands, even if I had been equipped with a gun. After our TaiChi lesson, we went bike riding in the countryside surrounding Yangshuo. I was surprised by how bad some of the kids were at riding bicycles, but they do not ride very much in the big city. I enjoyed the ride, but it was very short. It took us a long time because kids kept falling down and hurting themselves. We stopped at a cafe partway through our bike ride for a break. There was a cool bridge, and Kevin told me that it was important. I took a picture of it, pictured above. He didn’t really seem to know why it was important, but he thought some people may have spotted a dragon while standing on it and peering into the river. He speculated that maybe they saw a crocodile. He thought that was funny, but I was concerned that we might have to worry about crocodiles now as well as bicycle accidents. Part of the trip for the students is a service opportunity. The students went to a remote village and picked up garbage for one part of the service learning. There was a surprising amount of garbage in this rural area, but the scenery was still breathtaking. I ventured as close as I dared to those water buffalo. I tried to capture some interesting birds flying above, but you can’t really see them. They are those white things. On Tuesday night, we camped out. Camping was one of my favorite parts of the trip. We camped in the most remote location you can imagine. Here are some pictures of our 20 minute walk to the camping site. We arrived to a small plot of land that the company owned. It was surrounded by farmland, with a very rural village nearby. The kids had to set up their tents immediately. This took several hours, as a lot of the students had never set up a tent before, and some of the tents were really strange, and even difficult for some of the more camping experienced teachers to figure out. We were also scheduled to rock climb one day, but once we arrived to the climbing area and harnessed up, it started to pour. That was the only activity that we were rained out of. The week was really fantastic, and I am excited to go back to Yangshuo on my own terms sometime in the near future. All for now.
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