Landon students Kaleb ’21 and Benny ’22 wrote these reflections on their experiences during their summer 2019 trip to Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai, China, with the coeducational Landon-in-China summer program, organized and led by Upper School Chinese teacher Xiaohong Yang Herrle (Ms. Yang). During the trip, the students stayed with host families, took cultural and language classes, explored historic sites such as the Great Wall, and immersed themselves in the Chinese language and culture. Information about the 2020 program is here.
This past summer, I had the wonderful experience of taking part in the Landon-in-China summer immersion program. The program did a wonderful job at its stated goals: expanding our horizons immensely and immersing us within a foreign culture. The trip also gave me the opportunity to improve my Chinese, which is something that I had to make a conscious effort of in trying to speak Chinese whenever I could.
If you are studying the language and are traveling to that country, I definitely recommend that you take risks and get out of your comfort zone to speak the language. It is difficult at times, and you will be corrected. However, it is well worth the reward of feeling yourself getting better at the language and being able to converse with people more naturally and skillfully. The program also introduced me to some phenomenal cuisine, and it almost seemed like every meal was being topped by the one that followed.
Another great thing the program offered me was a relationship with some truly wonderful host families, who despite their busy lives invited me into their houses, took me to different places for cultural exposure, and made my experience the best it could be. I can even say I left China with a couple of friends made. In closing, I will say that the Landon-in-China program was awesome, and I am very appreciative of everyone involved.
My time in China was the best I spent over the summer. The trip begins with a long flight that while it can be tiring, it led to something beautiful. Once we landed in Beijing, we quickly got to meet our host families. All the host families were happy to meet us and take us into their homes. For me, meeting the host families was always the most exciting part of the trip. Once we had introduced ourselves to our host, we were taken to their homes for dinner and rest, dinner being the more fun part of course.
While out with your host family, manners are effortless to remember and speaking Chinese is more than necessary. Despite focusing on Chinese, if I was having trouble, my host brother was always there to help. In China, people will ask you for pictures, and students will ask to practice their English, and this is nothing to be afraid of. If at any time you’re uncomfortable, let your host brother know, and he’ll tell the people if you don’t want to. I, however, would encourage speaking in Chinese. It not only gives you a chance to practice but also shows the Chinese people that Americans are open to their culture.