Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Leaping into new territory

    From Chinatown to China: Peralta Study Abroad
    takes students on a journey of self-discovery

    I could only hear Mandarin voices, as the Peralta delegates — my 20 best friends or worst enemies for the next two weeks — drew stares from everyone around us. Line after line after line… Hours passed before I finally got to lie down on a hotel bed on my first night in China.
    My mind raced. Did I make a mistake by coming here? Was this trip a good idea? Should I use the restroom? But I let go of my inhibitions and fell asleep.
    The China-United States Exchange Foundation partnered up with the Peralta Community College District to host this study abroad trip, whose primary focus was to improve the delegates’ understanding of Chinese culture, history, and modernity. The foundation provided 21 scholarships for 21 delegates across the four Peralta campuses, and I was lucky enough to be one of them.
    Study AbroadI kept this fact in mind as I headed out to tackle my first day of China.
    The first stop was Beijing. Each day in Beijing was split into two halves. The first half of the day consisted of lectures and workshops. The professors from the Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) focused on the cultural and historical aspects of China. 
    Some of the professors taught solely based on their PowerPoints, while other professors utilized auditory, vocal, and tactile learning. Every professor had his or her own style, but was great nonetheless. 
    These lectures featured Chinese cuisine, ancient folklore, Mandarin, and much more. The workshops — ranging from tea ceremonies to martial arts — provided hands-on learning and reinforced our knowledge of cultural practices. The second half of the day consisted of company tours and site visits. My fellow delegates and I had wonderful opportunities to see some of the world’s finest sites such as the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, and the Confucian Temple.
    The second stop was Shanghai. The daily routine remained relatively similar to our routine in Beijing, though some things changed. For one, the professors from Fudan University focused on modern aspects such as China’s economy and its economic relationship with the world. 
    Secondly, we visited modern sites rather than historical sites. These modern sites included The Oriental Pearl Tower (imagine the Space Needle in Seattle), Yuyuan Bazaar, and the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
    Throughout the trip, my fellow delegates and I also had the chance to meet so many remarkable people. Our hosts from the China-United States Exchange foundation provided us with great professors, campuses, and lectures. The local students graciously gave up their time and hosted events, games, and performances. Our tour guides made us laugh, made us smile, and, most notably, made us miss the China experience after we returned home.
    It felt surreal to attend school in China. This new environment made me more engaged in my learning. Back in the states, I would get bored of learning, because everything always felt the same. However, this simple twist in environment was enough to spark my curiosity. Everything was new. The campus, the lectures, the professors, and the experience. 
    Sure, I had an itinerary to follow, but it did not prepare me for the new friendships, the new styles of teaching, or the new selections at the dining hall. I wanted to experience everything that China had to offer. I wanted to learn about it, remember it, and keep it for life. This curiosity followed me back home, and I became more driven than ever to see the world.
    Martial ArtsThe entire experience overwhelmed me. I had many reservations even before the trip started. I had not known anyone prior to the trip, so I essentially had to share this experience with a group of strangers from the four Peralta campuses. However, strangers quickly became friends. My fellow delegates and I spent much time together. We ate strange dishes like chicken feet together. We laughed at the funniest — and lamest — jokes together. Most importantly, we experienced a life-changing trip together. We had our share of roadblocks such as homesickness, smog, and upset tummies. Nevertheless, we did not let that keep us from seeing China and everything it had to offer. 
    As a personal note, I actually received an important lesson from my fellow delegates. They taught me to…love myself. 
    As an ethnic minority in America, I had difficulty embracing my identity and being comfortable in my own skin. Though how could I not? Especially when America keeps telling everyone that “white” is the way to go. 
    I had the opportunity to learn more about the African American culture and perspective from my fellow delegates. They always found connections between their culture and Chinese culture, and never did they seem ashamed to embrace their culture or their skin color. 
    They loved themselves, and they had every right to. I had every right to love myself as well, so why should I be ashamed of myself? 
    There are other people around the world that see the beauty in people like me, and I should recognize this beauty as well. However, I would have never learned this had I not gone on this trip.
    I had originally applied to this scholarship, because I thought it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Fortunately, it was. The friends I made, the culture I experienced, and the lessons I learned were all part of an experience that I would never be able to replicate.
    I have never been on a more life-changing experience, and I believe everyone in the world should have an opportunity like this at least once in their lives. If you are ever thinking twice about leaving the states for the first time, I would highly recommend you take the leap and just do it.
    One quote from the famous Disney movie, “Up,” was: “Adventure is out there!” I believed in this quote, and I found this adventure in China.
    Life’s an adventure. Make it a memorable one.
    Special thanks to Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Yashica Crawford, Anna Cortesio, Lasana Hotep, the Peralta College System, and the China-United States Exchange Foundation for making all of this possible.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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