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Day Four 1 Thursday June 26, 2014

Hello! My name is Briana Demming and I am going to be a sophomore at Waubonsie Valley High School this upcoming Fall. This trip has been a blast so far and today was our first official day in Hangzhou. We started off the day by going to breakfast at 8:30am and then at 9:25am we began our activities. First, we had a campus orientation which was a tour of the Hangzhou Wanxiang Polytechnic campus. The campus is beyond beautiful. We visited the library which had elegant ceilings and windows. Also, there was a lounging area where we were able to hang out and enjoy coffee and condensed milk candies. On display, there were projects that were created by the Industrial Design students. The projects ranged from hangers to iPhone cases to chairs. Following our visit to the library, we went to one of the training buildings and saw an Urban Railway System model. I really enjoyed being able to see how smart and talented the students at the school are. Continuing on our campus tour, we were able to see trees that other organizations had planted during their visits. As a symbol of friendship with the school and our Chinese counterparts, the Chicago Urban League’s 2014 Student Ambassadors will also be planting a tree in a few short days. Wrapping up our tour, we saw the dance studio, fitness room and a few other activity rooms including table tennis.

After the tour, we saw a tea art performance. The 1st presentation featured the West Lake Longjing tea which has a history of over 600 years. The tea is most famous for its jade green color, beautiful shape and its sweet fragrance; the performance was facilitated by 2 men and 1 woman. The 2nd presentation of Oolong tea was presented by 2 men. Following those two presentations, two of our ambassadors Cydney and Jermaine were invited to perform the Longjing tea ritual. Next, we were given a speech by CUSEF’s Special Advisor Mr. Alexander Tzang. His speech was very motivational, because he made each ambassador feel important to this global world. One key thing that stuck with me was his belief that we can help the Chinese fulfill their dream. He believes that we can make an impact in China as well as in America, so that both of our countries can come together in the future. Mr. Tzang’s words will always be a part of my life, because they gave me more confidence to work on being the change for this world. After his speech, we went to lunch and met a group of girls from Los Angeles, who are also here on a student ambassador trip. It was exciting for all of us to meet other youth who are experiencing China as well.

Next, we sat through a lecture about China’s Plan and Recent Development in Clean Energy, which was presented by Mr. Min Zhu. We learned the importance of the U.S. and China working together to lessen the amount of fossil fuels around the world, which will decrease the amount of pollution. Our last activity for the day was a Chinese Culinary art workshop, where we made dumplings for dinner. Chef Wei and student ambassadors from Hangzhou Wanxiang Polytechnic helped us through each of the steps. We were able to make different designs and create some pretty delicious pork dumplings. In conclusion, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start off our time in Hangzhou. I’m really looking forward to everything that is in store for us for the next week and I’m so ready to experience more of Hangzhou!

~Briana Demming

Day Four 2 Thursday June 26, 2014

You know that there are a lot of ways to greet someone, there’s “Hola,” “Bonjour,” “Konnichiwa” and a simple hello, but today I think that the best greeting is a good old “Ni Hao!” Ni Hao, I’m Patricia Terry, one of the 2014 Chicago Urban League’s Student Ambassadors, who travelled all the way from the U.S. of A to China. But I’m sure that many of you already knew that. You have read a few of the other ambassadors’ blogs about our adventures in Beijing and how we’ve had to wake up at 6:00am, but this morning in Hangzhou was absolutely heaven. Today, there was no banging on the door to be dressed and in the lobby at 7:00am; instead we had a whole extra hour to sleep in, our beautiful Hangzhou Wanxiang Polytechnic hotel room.

At 9:00am, we explored the University’s green gardens and saw the Osmanthus tree which was planted by a group of Chicago Public School students and it was a good thing to see the result of the US and China coming together to leave something so beautiful behind. We saw a picture of Jane Lu, a very kind woman who introduced our group to the Chinese Language during our pre-trip curriculum. We toured the campus and saw a lot of their different buildings. We saw the Industrial Design building where one student created a whole new modern railway system. In the library, we saw student created products and I thought to myself, how great it was to see ideas and innovation from this country that could possibly benefit us when we return home. The last part of our tour included a stop at the laundry room, which was huge plus for us because our Beijing hotel did not have laundry facilities.

We then watched a tea art performance which was very graceful and requires the facilitator to be highly focused. I’m so used to seeing my tea in a teabag but this time, I actually saw the leaves floating around in the hot water; and instead of using the microwave for 1 minute, this ritual required 3-5 minutes to properly prepare the tea. We were welcomed by CUSEF’s Special Advisor Alexander Tzang who also serves as an advisor to the University, and I just would like to thank him for bringing us to China and especially to beautiful Hangzhou. During Mr. Tzang’s speech, I will always remember him saying “don’t be afraid to tell our Chinese students about your life in the USA, they are just like you, curious about the world.” His speech said to me, that being an ambassador isn’t just about learning but also about teaching, so hopefully, I’ll be able to do both. Xiexie!

~Patricia Terry