Location: Beijing

The morning started with my favorite voice. “Alexa, time to wake up,” she said in her Boston accent, pressing her face up against my mosquito net. We share the gift of having curly hair causing us to wake up early for morning showers. After a refreshing shower, I joined 15 other students and staff for a large American breakfast consisting of cereal and toast. I always eat a ton of breakfast because, for a picky eater like myself, when I am given American food in China, I go crazy. During breakfast, I was excited when I heard Hannah tell us that we were going to have double service today. I would be going to the baby home in the morning and the group home in the afternoon. Shortly after breakfast, I found myself and five other students in a van heading off to the baby home.  I always find myself running to the front door, trying to get the maximum amount of time with the kids as possible. I started downstairs with the toddlers. After about ten minutes I had a very happy toddler asleep in my arms. I placed him in his crib revealing a drool stain down my shirt that convinced me to head upstairs to the baby room. I then put two more babies to sleep and helped Christina out with an unhappy baby. Like most days the time at the baby home went by fast.

Our next stop on our busy day was back to the apartment for a delicious lunch consisting of grilled cheese and Chinese chips. We ate until our stomachs were full then headed out for our second round of service work. We were greeted at the group home by the foster mothers, excited to teach us how to make homemade dumplings. We had a blast learning from the group home kids how to make the traditional dish. I have to admit I thought for sure I would not care for the stuffed noodles we worked hard on making. But when the dumplings were served, I found myself being forced by other students to try our masterpieces. After one small bite, I found myself stuffing my face with dumplings. All the students had to gather in the living room to recover from the food comas we were enduring. We had about an hour to kill before our hour bus ride that would take us to the train station for my first overnight train. I ended up gathering six other students to grab ice cream bars from the local mart. When we got back to the group home, we all gathered and said goodbye, and set off for the first Lifeworks excursion. Before the long trip, we stopped at an international food mart that had AMERICAN food! All the students ran through the store getting enough of their favorite foods to last a lifetime. I got my favorite chips, granola bars and candy that would get me through the trip to Xi’an. The hour and a half bus ride went fast. I got the true feeling of how many people live in China when I took my first step out of the bus and found myself in the heart of Beijing. I struggled to keep my eye on Fei Fei (one of the staff members) not only because she only stands 5ft tall, but because there seemed like the whole country of China was at the train station. After an hour wait for our train, we got settled in our carts. I chose the middle bunk, a bad choice considering I hit my head on the bunk above me when I sat up. While other students stayed up talking, I fell fast asleep excited for the trip to come!