Location: Beijing

Holy chopsticks! It’s hard to believe our time together in China has come to a close. Today everyone said their farewells (or rather “see you laters”) and boarded their flights bound for home. It’s utterly mind-boggling to reflect on all that we accomplished over the past three weeks. Here are a few choice pieces from the highlights reel.

Starting on day one, we dedicated ourselves to bonding with Dew Drops babies and the family kids at Jingdu Hospital in Beijing. At Roundabout, we sorted tons of donations to be sold to charity. Then, we journeyed to Xi’an where we cycled around the old city wall before wandering through the exhilarating chaos of Muslim Street Market. We toured the Terracotta Warriors archaeological site and survived a night train full of the rowdiest bunch of 8-12-year-olds in all of China. We traveled to Inner Mongolia where we played with lots of wee ones and gained a unique understanding of day-to-day life in a state-run orphanage. We explored some of the most iconic historical sites in the world scaling a section of the Great Wall, walking in the footsteps of emperors in the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, and sacrificing a few drops of sweat while visiting the Temple Heaven. We learned all about the life of Genghis Khan and had a wildly good time tearing it up in the Kubuqi Desert (still wanna do that zip line again!). We spearheaded the flowerpot delivery service at Shan Shui hotel. We even got to enjoy Seth serenading us with renditions of Billy Joel songs and “Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun” during the late nights and long bus rides. Not to mention, we spun ourselves silly for the sake of an awesome spinning-selfie video montage. What a spectacular whirlwind of service and adventures!

As each of you settles into the familiar comforts of home and begin the next chapter, I hope you all can look back on these experiences and think to yourselves ‘Uh – huh. I’ll remember that!’ In all seriousness, the memories we have made and the connections we have built with one another and with the kiddos here in China will undoubtedly stick with us for the rest of our lives. Together we have faced plenty of highs and lows throughout this journey, and I’d like to think we are all the better for it. It’s those moments of struggle where we can grow the most; the moments of questioning our understanding of ourselves and the world as we know it. I have gained a tremendous amount of insight as a result of partaking in this program with y’all. I am constantly reminded that there is always room for growth and reflection and for looking beyond ourselves. Keep cultivating your curious, kind, and inquisitive minds and continue striving to be a force of positivity in the world. The time we have shared is precious, and I hope you each continue to push your comfort zones and challenge ourselves in new ways in the days, months and years that follow.