Location: Beijing, China

It felt great to come back to our apartment home after our amazing adventure in Xian. Today we had a full day of service work with regular rotations in the morning, Roundabout in the afternoon, and extra time with the group home kids in the park. Six of us went to the baby home in the morning where I joined Laura and Pablo upstairs to play with the babies. At first, it was difficult to get into the groove of things but as I watched the kids smile at the sound of our voices and the sight of our faces the experience felt more comfortable. In the end, all six of us gathered in the room while I rocked a baby girl to sleep as if she were my own and gave her back to the nanny to put her to bed. When we got home the chefs of the day, Mara and Adriana had prepared an American classic, hot dog style, lunch. At Roundabout I spent the time sorting through clothing donations, determining whether they would be sold or given to a different charity. Our sorting skills weren’t quite up to par because the woman kept redistributing the clothes, but it’s okay! On the way home, we listened to the driver’s cool techno music and spotted the group home kids approaching our apartment. With about twenty energetic kids and seventeen of us, we all ran to the park as chaos approached.

In the center, frisbees and balls flew from every direction and the little ones blew bubbles and drew designs on the concrete with the chalk. It was sad to say goodbye but at the end of the day, everyone was exhausted. After a delicious dinner, a round of props and a squeeze question about our favorite type of food started off our nightly forum. Afterward, we split into groups of three or four to discuss our childhoods, thoughts, and futures. The smaller audience allowed us to have more intimate conversations and open up more freely. Each person seemed to have a different emotional experience, whether it be relief, sadness, happiness or encouraged. The day ended with a casual game of Apples to Apples and journal writing. Students return to their bunks with the anticipation for the adventures of the next day.