From June 4th to the 23rd, twenty-five Logan and Central High School students traveled to China. They visited four major Chinese cities, learning about Chinese culture, language, and people. They saw some great sights, had outstanding interpersonal experiences with Chinese people, and made friends that will last a lifetime.
In Shanghai, students spent two days exploring the fascinating mix of modern, ancient, and even old-style European architecture. Shanghai is considered China’s financial center and its financial district is modern, fast-paced, and includes the 88 story Jin Mao Tower, in which students rode the elevator to the very top – an exciting ride of only 45 seconds! Students also enjoyed visiting the Yuyuan garden, exploring the old parts of the city that is built on a system of canals and watching (and helping) Chinese artisans create silk quilts.
In Xi’an, an ancient capital of 13 dynasties, students viewed thousands of life-sized soldiers and horses in the archeological museum of the Terracotta Warriors. This is the site where the first emperor Qin was buried and is considered very significant in Chinese history. Other activities included visiting temples and pagodas and taking a bicycle tour of the ancient city wall in near 100 degree heat.
Beijing, a city of more than 20 million people, provided students with many cultural, historical, and natural sights. Students reported that their favorite places were the Beijing Zoo and the Great Wall. In the zoo, they had the rare opportunity to watch several giant pandas playing with each other and looking very adorable. Everyone was in awe of the Great Wall, which goes up and down craggy mountains, and is a challenge for almost any hiker. After riding cable cars to the actual wall and hiking up and down hundreds of steep stairs, exploring guard towers and other architectural features, many students rode the thrilling toboggan to get down – not too different from a downhill roller coaster, except the ride goes through trees and over rocks and you feel like you’re in a sled on rails. In addition to sightseeing throughout Beijing, students enjoyed many shopping opportunities where they bought souvenirs for family and friends and showed off their bargaining skills with the locals.
As much as students enjoyed the other cities, almost everyone agreed their favorite place was Luoyang, La Crosse’s sister city. As Luoyang was another ancient capital of many dynasties, students had opportunities to see significant historical and cultural sights. Students enjoyed the Longmen Grottos, where Buddhist sculptures are carved into the cliffs, and the famous Shaolin Temple, where they watched a show of marital arts skills and stunts put on by Shaolin monks, who still live in the temple and devote their lives to martial arts just as they have done for centuries.
During the ten days in Luoyang, students were guests of Luoyang #2 Foreign Language School. They lived in the homes of host students and attended school with them from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM. This was the best part of the entire China trip, living with local people and experiencing life in China not as tourists but as regular students. In addition to tasting the every day life of China, the Luoyang teachers and administrators arranged for many educational and cultural experiences that included Chinese cooking classes, Tai Chi, learning to make traditional Chinese paintings, pottery skills, a traditional tea ceremony, visiting a Chinese medicine hospital, and much more. The friendly people of Luoyang and welcoming atmosphere made for a great experience that left the students with many friends and wonderful memories.