Two Delgado Community College students, Andres Anthaume and Stanley Manton, participated in the Confucius Institute's summer study abroad program in China along with students and faculty from Xavier University of New Orleans.
Manton wrote this account of the experience:
Where can you go to find majestic dragons, drool inducing foods, bustling commerce, centuries of history, people who greet you with a kind heart, and illustrious tales as old as time? China, the Middle Kingdom, is a country like no other, with many exciting things to be learned and encountered. Fortunately, when approached with the opportunity to take this once in a lifetime trip, I jumped on the chance. By being a good student and working hard, I received a third-party scholarship; which I planned to use for an international trip. The expectations of my journey to the far-east included witnessing an unclean urban area, overcrowded with people and deprived of resources. I was not expecting the cleanliness I observed. With a history as long and a people as unique as China’s, many lessons and experiences presented themselves to me on my trip. I would not trade, nor would I want to change, any of my memories of the experience for anything. I left the Middle Kingdom with a heavy heart, as I am sure all of my fellow group members can admit to.
The weeks before boarding my plane that first morning, I did a bit of research on the culture, respectful gestures, history, and practiced my Mandarin Chinese. My expectations were far beyond what I experienced. The many places we were fortunate enough to visit were very clean and the people were polite to us foreigners. I did not expect to meet so many kind-hearted and caring Chinese students and people while there. Many of my new friends often asked if I had rested well, or if I had eaten enough for a meal, or they offered to pay for my things. Coming from America, this was a bit of a shock. These polite gestures made me want to care more for strangers and the people I love. The freshness of the foods outstretched what you would potentially find in an American supermarket. I knew the food would be delicious, but the freshness of the ingredients made it even more appetizing. The hotel rooms that we lived in exceeded what I had thought would be given to us. I felt comfortable most of the trip, including when I slept. The hospitality presented to us was excellently given with no questions or remarks asked for in return.
With a busy schedule filled with activities and lessons, our group was immersed into an experience beyond what any of us could have predicted. I, along with the others, was very fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the museums and historical tours that were planned for us. Because of a looming HSK Mandarin Chinese examination, we were taught more of the language by our two caring Chinese teachers. They also took into consideration teaching us about some of the culture and common phrases. While exploring the city of Baoding, I learned that the overcrowded streets can potentially be a dangerous situation because of the sheer number of people commuting. If you expect to buy souvenirs, a basic understanding of Mandarin Chinese can go a very long way. If a vendor would hear me speak Chinese, the price for items would reduce in almost no time at all, while still allowing me to bargain lower. The Chinese partners introduced to us would try to do anything we may need or ask them to do and they truly cared for our well-being.
After two weeks of delicious food, a beautiful campus, splendid tours, and meeting many new friends, the trip had to come to an end. The memories I created in China will live within my heart for the rest of my life, and I will always feel a bit changed because of my experience. From three delicious meals every day, to having private transportation everywhere we went, the program was excellently planned and coordinated by the Confucius Institute and HanBan. Our tour guides were very friendly and knowledgeable of the many historic sites we visited. They would answer any questions we may have while also pointing out interesting things along the way. The days spent on the Campus of Hebei University were pleasant and each day opened the door for new opportunities and experiences. I truly enjoyed the time spent with my fellow group members. We all got along very well while sharing the sights and sounds of a faraway place together.
In conclusion, my experience during the Summer Study Abroad in China is one that I would not trade for anything. Our group was fortunate to witness the things presented to us, and to feel the heart of a culture halfway across the globe. Our well-being and happiness were considered by many of our hosts and friends that we met during our time in the Middle Kingdom. While climbing the Great Wall with sweat pouring down my forehead, I realized that I may never have this opportunity to be with these group members, my friends, in such an amazing place of history and wonder ever again. I learned that life can pass you by as quickly as the tick of a clock. Take the opportunity when it presents itself. Experience the life of others. Listen and learn new things along your road through life. Care for others with more kindness than you expect to receive in turn. I would also like to give thanks from the bottom of my heart to everyone that was involved in the coordination of this program. I will forever look back on my memories of China and of the people I met with the utmost gratitude and joy. Because of their caring, we all took part in a journey that will last throughout our lifetimes. 再见中国。