Location: Beijing

After a morning at Little Flower and working at a warehouse we proceeded to take a van into the heart of Downtown Beijing. That night we were permitted two hours to explore the streets of Beijing markets were we experienced the rich culture and were exposed to a side of Chinese culture that we could have only dreamt of. We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to break free from our large group and receive an authentic experience. We enjoyed fresh, local food while some utilized their ability to speak Chinese to natives. Several of us bargained with the people who ran the markets to get a fair deal on what we were purchasing. We truly gained insight into the vastness of the Chinese culture while enjoying some various traditional tourist foods. As the night grew on, the streets became packed with people, and the city became alive. In our groups, we greeted many people in their native language and received many “hellos” and smiles. After a beautiful night on the street, we then relaxed on the roof terrace of our hotel tossing an American football and chatting about the amazing sights we had experienced throughout the day. While in our hotel, we befriended a very nice girl who was four years old. She spoke little English but giggled and played with us as we talked to her mom in Chinese. The next morning we took a short bus ride to one of the most famous sites in China, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City. While there, we gained a superb look into the history of China and its feudal system while also having fun with our friends. We saw beautiful palaces and gained just a small insight into the true vastness of the Forbidden City and its many palaces. It was truly an enjoyable experience, and we will never forget the memories that we made during this part of our volunteer trip abroad.