Emily: ‘A Race Against Each Other’

Emily: ‘A Race Against Each Other’

Public day or paparazzi day? That is the question. Today, we had an exhibition open to the public of Beijing to talk to students and adults about our research projects. However, they were certainly more interested in take pictures with us, getting our autographs, and exchanging business cards. I now have business cards from people I don’t even know (and I sure can’t read their Chinese writing)! I think they were just as blown away by the diversity of our international delegations as I am!

I found it especially inspiring when the students wanted to practice their English with us. I met two Chinese girls, both my age, and they spoke English beautifully. We talked for about an hour. It was really fun because we were teaching each other different hand games (videos attached). I thought then Miss Mary Mack, however, I think I messed up the very last line. Instead of saying “til the 4th of July,” I said “I don’t know why.” In exchange, they taught me a game that they play. One of the girls told me that they play this game to see who could go the fastest. It’s “a race against each other!”

After playing hand games, we talked a lot about how school is in Beijing compared to in North Carolina. Surprisingly, they are more similar than I thought. We both take seven different classes that are each forty-five minutes long. We start and end our school days at the same time. But I think the biggest contrast is that I have a bit more freedom to choose the classes I want to learn. They were so surprised that I was taking biology class, let alone doing biology research, my junior year of high school.

As we talked about our school lives, I tried to imagine myself becoming a bookworm like they described. Their entire futures are determined by their test scores… I honestly can’t even imagine a life that isn’t holistically looked at by colleges. For them, it’s hard to do extracurricular activities or find their passions or anything other than studying from textbooks. I asked about what would happen if they did put down the books and do something like research. They looked at me with such a confused expression on their faces like not constantly studying is just unheard of at their school.

They do dream of coming to America though! We spent a long period of time going through all of the cities and states in the U. S. that I suggested they should visit. California, New York, Washington D.C., Chicago. Any others?

This competition has really been eye opening to me. I’ve realized how privileged I’ve be with my studies, my opportunities, and even my freedom to spend time discovering my passions.

I know I’ll come home changed. But not just emotionally… I’m bringing back some Australian slang to America. Get ready!!!