China Your Way provides study abroad experiences for students who desire to learn the Mandarin language and to expand their knowledge of Chinese culture. The participating Regians plunged themselves into Chinese culture through living with a homestay family, attending daily Chinese classes, and participating in various activities across the country that included day trips to sites such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace.
With homestays scattered all around Beijing, Wudaokou became the central meeting hub for the students due to its proximity to Beijing LinYe Daxue (the University where Chinese classes were held) subway lines, and many commercial attractions. Interactions with locals became frequent, whether it was bargaining for a set of chopsticks, asking directions to the nearest KTV, or engaging in deep philosophical debate about the moral ethics of the one child policy.
"The educational opportunities we were exposed to on the trip were tremendous," said Sean Pasquali '14. "Not only because of the daily, six person, classes that offered individualized attention—and plenty of opportunity to participate in skits and dialogues—but also because of the homestay families that patiently worked with us to understand and communicate with them despite occasional mispronunciations."
Some of the more exciting opportunities involved learning how to wield traditional Chinese weaponry such as swords, spears and knives, and studying traditional Chinese calligraphy, paper cutting, and seal cutting. Students also volunteered their time at XiangShan National Park by picking up litter and spread awareness for the need of civic responsibility.
There were many times when the students were pushed out of their comfort zone. But their Chinese language listening and speaking skills were definitively strengthened and improved by approaching such challenges head on. "This experience in China will undoubtedly serve us well as we enter our fourth year of Chinese study at Regis," said Pasquali.
Above: Six Regis seniors pose with a Tibetan monk at the Lama Temple in Beijing