Adventure offer an opportunity for personal growth at any age. When we create a trip, we want it to be a meaningful journey. Here at WildChina, we strive to see people learn and grow from their experiences with us. Recently, we led a brave group of international high school students and teachers on an educational adventure in Yunnan province. Our guides shared the highlights, cultural exchanges and WOW moments of their moving education trip.
Informed that one afternoon of community service at a local family farm would help complete a few days worth of hard work, the students and teachers weren’t hesitant to roll up their sleeves and help out the Tibetan family. They jumped right in and with a few instructions, chopped down barley with sharp sickles, secured their big bundles with barley ties, and put the golden barley on an old tractor to be hulled away to the barn.
Most Tibetans speak in Tibetan languages, so our local WildChina guides usually translate, but on this occasion, the quick-witted students took communication into their own hands. They worked side-by-side with the local Tibetan family while using universal hand motions and facial expressions to communicate. They used arm motions to signal strength, smiles to exchanging gratitude and appreciation, and big waves of goodbyes and thank yous. After seeing the huge loads of barley they harvested, the students, teachers, and guides directly saw the true value of their work at the family farm. The students’ feelings of accomplished glowed on their young, tired faces.
Spending an evening at a Tibetan home gave the students another opportunity for a shared cultural experience. After a tasty Tibetan meal, the family preformed a lively traditional dance, and then asked the high school students to join. After dancing around the room with the locals, the students decided it was time the switch things up and teach the kind family some Western dance moves.
The energetic students choose one of the most iconic 1990s dance hits, the Macarena. A student played the song from their iPhone as they taught the family the catchy dance. The Tibetan women and children had a blast! Seeing the huge smiles on the family’s faces, sharing laughs and exchanging dances, taught the high school students that while it’s great to go and experience new culture, it’s also rewarding to share yours along the way.
Along their adventure in the Tibetan plateau, the high school students were taking trip notes of their exciting learning experiences for a paper they would create after the Yunnan trip. One student had another idea for the project; instead of writing a conventional paper, he would capture the magic of Yunnan with a video compilation. He video recorded the community service, the strenuous hikes in the Abujee mountains, the tour of a local school and villages, and every smile and struggle in between.
On their last night camping,sitting around a bright,warm fire in the Abujee mountains, the student volunteered his video for viewing. Projected onto the ceiling of the tent, the students, teachers, and guides watched their life-altering journey together. Mixed emotions overcame the group as they watched their trekking voyage unfold in front of them.
Outside the tent, local Tibetans who were assisting the trip, caught a view of the video as well; this was the first time some of them saw themselves on video. They were in awe at the technology and thoroughly enjoyed seeing themselves, some even wondering, ‘Do I really look like that?!’
After viewing the touching video, one of the teachers told a WildChina guide that she loved being a teacher because she can guide students to learn, but it’s breathtaking seeing students take their learning into their own hands. On this expedition, the students stepped out of the classroom to learn about Tibetan people and experience the culture hands on, changing themselves and the Tibetans they befriended along the way.
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