When the news came about that I – and nine other students – was chosen to be the ‘Young Ambassadors’ to represent Malaysia for the Beijing summer Camp 2011, it was quite daunting. But as we arrived at the Capital Airport in Beijing on July 16, greeted by our language assistant, Frankie, all I felt was pure excitement for the ten days to come.
We arrived at the Beijing Foreign Languages School around noon and I was amazed of the enormity of the campsite. I was then told that this school caters for preschoolers up to highschoolers. Our luggage was taken to our respective dormitories with the help of the local students who volunteered as we were paired up with a roommate and dormitory keys.
Lunch was served at the campsite’s dining hall and I was grateful for their attentiveness of the Muslims and the vegetarians’ food custom. No activity was carried out on the first day as some students from other countries have not yet arrived and we were left to our own devices. On Sunday, July 17 we had a meet and greet session with the other twelve international groups and we played tug of war with the word ‘Jia You’ said repetitively as it means : Keep on going! After lunch, we had our very first Chinese language course and it was monotonous since the ‘laoshi’ is not able to converse in English. We then had an opening ceremony at the amphitheatre where the ambassador of Malaysia, the Hanban and representatives of BFSU were present.
On July 18 after the Chinese language course, we were introduced to Chinese folk culture : shadow playing. It was fascinating to know that expertise is needed to do shadow playing. In the afternoon, we were all required to go to the sports court to play sports. Personally, I think it was a good venue for the students of various countries to build rapport and camaraderie. That night, we had an optional culture course and I took up Chinese calligraphy.
We woke up early on July 19 as we all are going to visit the Great Wall of China. One thousand steps later, we finally reached the great wall and the great climb was worth it. It was amazing to finally visit one of the seven wonders of the world with your very own eyes. The history behind it and the scenery was breathtaking. I took up Chinese painting as the optional course was carried out later that day and we had painting after that.
A trip to the Forbidden City was postponed as there were unforeseen events that came about on July 20 but we went and visited the Bird’s Nest – The national stadium of Beijing – and instead. When we arrived back to the campsite, we were introduced to Beijing opera and mask painting imitation. I was painted as a monkey!
The very next day, July 21, we went to the multi-functional hall after class as we had to learn the Bamboo dance teamed up with various countries. It was proven to be difficult but it got easier with practice and cooperation. After lunch, I was thrilled for the next activity : Kung Fu, the ancient form of Martial Arts. We learned tai chi and five step shadowboxing.
Before heading off to the Hanban Institute in the afternoon of July 22, all teams were given time to rehearse for the closing ceremony that Sunday. After the visit, we had one of Beijing’s famous meal : the Beijing Roast Duck. It was delicious!
July 23 was a challenging day for the Malaysia team considering we came prepared for the closing ceremony performance but was told to change at the very last minute. Though peeved with the host’s sudden request, the Malaysia team rised to the occasion and altered our routine. Afterwards, we left for the Hong Qiao Market to shop and had an early dinner in one of the restaurants. We later then walked to Chaoyang Theatre to experience another of Chinese’s folk culture : acrobatics. It was impressive to witness brilliant strength, balance and proficiency.
The last day of the camp arrived with a startle as morning came on July 24. We left for the Forbidden City and the history behind it was remarkable. Despite the downpour in the evening, the closing ceremony went on with a bang at the end with Malaysia’s performance and each countries flags. We bade our goodbyes to our friends as some had to leave that night. Most of us were reluctant to go but yet comforted by the fact that we’re going back home with new friends and myriad of memories made.
Conclusively, I think the trip was a great experience and exposure to China’s culture and language. I was disappointed that we were not brought to visit the Summer Palace which I was told that it would be a sight. Throughout the camp, everything was provided sufficiently food wise and such. Though I do highlight that time management and more activities that encourage interaction between countries should be considered.