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Location: Baotou

The morning started early with the usual Chinese breakfast before leaving for the orphanage. At the orphanage, we broke up into groups of two and distributed ourselves among four rooms. Today, I was with Hope in one of the foster care rooms where we spent time playing with young kids on a play mat. The kids that we were with today were a lot younger and more mellow than the kids we were with yesterday, which was a change, but we still had a ton of fun. I was able to interact with nearly all of the kids in the room, but I ended up finding myself hanging out with a little boy whose face would light up at any attention I would give him. By the end of the morning, I learned that he really enjoyed when I tickled him and rolled toy cars in front of his face. Once our service with the kids was over, we had lunch in the orphanage cafeteria where we ate a lot of fresh watermelons. After this came a two and a half hour van ride to the tomb of Genghis Khan that left the entire back row in the van catching some air over the very bumpy roads. The second we stepped out of the van, we were all surprised to see how cool the temperature was – a nice change from the hot weather that we’ve faced in Beijing and Xi’an. We then met up with our tour guide that showed us the statues of Genghis Khan’s army and the different yurts the people would stay in depending on their rank – We even got to go into the museum that had a really incredible painting explaining Mongolia’s history. It was interesting to see how all the different stages of the country were represented in a single work of art. Then, we hopped back into the van for a short five-minute drive down the road, where we would learn more about the Mongolian religion. Our tour guide explained to us what the different colors of the traditional flags represented, along with all the various other important symbols in Mongolian culture. Once the tour was over, Shaun and Seth took a walk around a tower that, according to the Mongolian religion, only men can walk around to gain power, so all of the girls decided to form our own nearby circle and not allow the boys in. When the two of them came back, Ruth, Shaun, Seth, and Keeley went to check out the last part of the museum, leaving the rest of us to talk among ourselves. After much discussion and laughter, we decided to lie down and pretend to be asleep to confuse the four of them once returned. Unfortunately, many of us started laughing, myself included, so things obviously didn’t go as planned. Anyways, we then went back to the van to drive to a nearby restaurant for dinner and to discuss the impact of our service while in China. Talking about the importance of applying our service to life at home and educating others about our experience in China felt like a great way to make sure that our newfound awareness doesn’t stop once we leave the country. I would definitely say that today was a success, and I’m super excited for tomorrow (I heard we may get to ride camels!!)

-Maggie