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Student Experiences

It is an impossible task to describe my incredible experiences with China Quest in merely a paragraph. There was not a single boring day and I could have easily written a book about my trip, although perhaps it would have needed several volumes. A combination of amazing people and amazing places meant that it was easily the best month of my life. China Quest not only made sure that the organization of the trip as a whole ran smoothly and that we were always occupied, but they also exceeded my expectations with small touches that made my trip extra special, such as receiving China Quest business cards with my name on to exchange with people I met, or receiving postcards made from group photos at famous landmarks to send to my family. I also felt that China Quest offered me the best combination of both freedom and brilliant pastoral care. Whilst we were able to go out and explore Beijing for ourselves, there were always knowledgeable students on hand to give us advice and Xixi Bao, the programme director, became a surrogate mother for all 50 of us. 

 The hardest part of the whole month was the return home, and it was harder than I had ever anticipated to leave my friends, who I felt like I had known for longer than a month, as well as Xixi Bao and the other China Quest leaders. However, when I did return home I had hundred of stories to tell about the truly unique experience that I had had- from drinking tea in a nomad yurt in Inner Mongolia after making my way there on horseback, to being on the Bund in Shanghai and seeing the world famous skyline for myself, to taking a rickshaw ride around the hutongs of Beijing and eating in the home of a Beijing family. I could not have hand picked a better set of memories, and I know that with the help of my extensive journal, it will be a very long time before I begin to forget what I did and learnt during my summer.

 

- Rachel Chapman - Senior at Wimbledon High School, London, England

 

To say that partaking in the China Quest program was incredible, or amazing, or stunning, or anything else would be a severe understatement. I don’t know how to capture the feelings I felt and still continue to feel into words, because I don’t think it is possible until you actually experience it. Going to China and seeing all the historic sites and bargaining for already cheap products was the perfect getaway from my normal boring life in Boston. The thing that really made the trip for me though were the people that I met and the friends that I made. I saw the same people everyday, morning and night, for 5 weeks, and the bonds that I formed with some them are just irreplaceable. The only downside about the program was that I didn’t want to leave my new friends, and when I eventually had to, all I wanted to do was see them. I know I was not alone in this feeling. But I guess like all good things, it had to come to an end, and it just shows how strong the relationships we formed were. I can honestly say that this trip was an experience of a lifetime and one that I will never forget.

- Bion West - Senior at Noble and Greenough School, MA

 

The trip to China was the most amazing experience of my life. It exposed me to a whole new world that I had previously only been able to imagine and provided me with opportunities to try countless new things; even if I'd hoped to one day stand on the Great Wall, I don't think I'd ever pictured myself sleeping in a yurt or riding an ATV through the Inner Mongolian grasslands. The classes were also very well done; I went on the trip with two years of high school Mandarin under my belt and wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't think I'd be able to spend my summer learning characters in a classroom, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the teachers were captivating and the material very interesting. We learned all sorts of words essential for navigating the cities and then to actually go out on the street and use what we had just been taught! I hate to brag, but by the end of the trip I was pretty good at haggling. I was also impressed by how diverse the group of kids was. There were students from 7 countries and 9 different states, all with varying levels of experience in Chinese (ranging from clueless to fluent). Whether it was from having class with them, or helping them bargain at markets, I got to know pretty much everyone very well and am sure I will remain close with them in the future. Perhaps my very favorite thing about the China Quest program was the element of freedom it contained. While there were always activities planned and things to do, I still had the ability to take a taxi with my friends and go and explore the city. I believe that in order to really understand and experience a culture, you have to be able to interact with locals and try things out of a classroom setting. I took full advantage of this ability and I can't wait to go back!

- Gregg Fish - Senior at Stuyvesant High School, NY

 

I had a wonderful time with China Quest. Not only did I discover this country and its culture, but I felt like I belonged to a family. Spending those five weeks visiting, discovering and learning with 50 other people got us closer and we all became friends. The program is not just about seeing another country. It's understanding China, its people, its traditions. I don't have any favorite memory because they're all part of something I'll always remember. I can only recommend this program to all the persons who are interested in China and in a deep emotional journey.

- Gary Goldman - Junior at Ecole Alsacienne High School, Paris France

 

One of my greatest memories from the China Quest trip would be our excursion to Inner Mongolia. Despite the 10 hour train ride, being stuck in traffic on a Mongolian highway, and frigidly cold weather, it was the most heavenly experience ever. Just imagine riding horseback through sprawling fields of vibrant wildflowers as the crisp air brushes your cheeks like a silk blanket. It sounds like a dream, but through the China Quest program, I lived it. This program exposed me to so many different types of Chinese life, from being a Beijing university student, to a Mongolian farmer, and gave me the opportunity to explore the language and culture through various trips to palaces, museums, gardens, and teahouses. China Quest gave me the ability to experience and embrace many aspects of this historically and culturally rich country, and therefore will be a program I will never forget.

- Roya K. Stephens - Senior at Brooklyn Technical High School, NY

 

The whole trip was a fun filled, yet highly educational experience. The summer that I attended the program was after freshman year of high school, and at first I had expectations of only taking intense Chinese courses, but the experience ended up being quite different. The program of 3 weeks in Beijing and the rest traveling around China is just magnificent. I truly believe I learned more in 1 month than I did taking Chinese classes for 5 years previous to this experience. The whole atmosphere created for each student was amazing; it felt like we were all one big family. Also the program had many liberties, we were able to explore the great city of Beijing and its people. We paid frequent visits to the markets, where we were able to practice our Chinese in bargaining with locals. It was definitely a taste of the Modern China.. We visited locals and had discourse with them, sparking intriguing conversations, and also visiting many historical landmarks. In my opinion China Quest has made me a more astute person, assisting my growth from adolescence into adulthood. It provided me a warmth and hominess that I hope that everyone can share in. I might have gone into the program hoping to learn the Chinese language, but I came out with much more than I could have hoped for.

- Julian Michael Kan - Junior at LaGuardia High School, NY

 

My trip to China was nothing short of spectacular. Not only did I have the chance to explore the Chinese culture but also the Chinese language. When I had first arrived in China I had already established a few friends because everyone was so friendly. I already felt safe near them and I knew that I was going to enjoy my stay. While in China we explored the historic sites and even ventured out to Mongolia. That was exciting, especially with the ATVs and beautiful Mongolian horses. The memories that I have from China will be forever imprinted into my mind for I will never forget the people I have met and the friends I had made.

- Stephanie Chang - Sophomore at Green Brook High School, NJ

 

I went to China this past summer with the China Quest program. It was amazing! The teachers were all bilingual, and the classes were organized into different levels so everyone could keep up, from those who had never even heard Chinese to the already-fluent speakers. The excursions were both entertaining and
abundant. We went everywhere, from the must-see tourist spots like Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall to the breathtaking Mongolian backcountry. The food was always delicious, and the friendships I made will last a lifetime.

- Aaron Mazel - Freshmen at Brown University, RI

 

China Quest was one of the defining experiences of my life. I learned more from those 5 weeks in China than I have in most of my life. The wide range of locations visited by the group gives you a much more varied and interesting experience than similar programs offered. My favorite class was calligraphy. The Chinese teacher who taught was full of character and energy, even though some things were lost at translation. The language classes were extremely well taught, and just being in China helped my understanding of the language increase tremendously. I really picked up an ear for it. After the trip, I've never received below a A as my grade in Chinese class at Brooklyn Tech, one of the top high schools in New York City.

- Chris Wallace - Senior at Brooklyn Technical High School, NY

 

Spending the summer in China was definitely the best thing I have ever done in my life. At first I was afraid I wouldn’t meet anyone because I am shy around strangers and I was homesick for a bit. However, within a week, I bonded with everyone from the program and we did everything together and it felt like family. In my opinion, the classes were a little demanding, and I was definitely against the idea of getting up early on a summer day. But I realized that there are infinity numbers of things I can do during my free time including taking a taxi around Beijing. Weekend sightseeing trips are amazing and it made me think that the world is a much bigger place than I thought. China is a place where I discovered something new everyday, and by the end of the trip I cried my eyes out because I didn’t want to leave. There is never a wrong time to go to China. When you get an opportunity to go, pack your bags and head over there. Here is your chance, and you will never regret it.

- Ka Ning Yip - Freshmen at Cornell University, NY

 

China Quest was an awesome experience for me. I got to spend a whole in China with my friends and fellow Americans. It was great because of 3 things: 1) I got to live and study Chinese in Beijing and got to see all the cultural and historical sights that Beijing is famous for. 2) I got to travel to the major cities (Xian, Shanghai, and Zhengzhou) 3)I got to go to Inner Mongolia!!! By far, the best part of the entire experience. Aside from not taking a bath for a few days, I got to really experience a lifestyle unlike any I have known before. Life on the grassland is simple, but amazingly serene and beautiful--a life we may perhaps never live but that we can truly come to a better understanding of-- the lives, the cultures, the minorities in China.

Tina Huang - Senior at Brooklyn Technical High School, NY

 

 

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