“One experience that made me feel grateful for what I have was when the group visited prestigious high schools in cities like Chongqing and Chengdu. I talked to so many students who work their …….. off from 7 in the morning until 10 or 11 at night and study in their spare time. When I think about how much I complain when I have an hour of homework compared to the amount some of the kids in China have, it is embarrassing. I don’t know if I could ever work as hard as they do at my age. I remember having a conversation with a boy I met in Chengdu. He told me that his only day off in a week is Sunday. He spends Sunday studying. He only receives one week off for summer vacation right after he takes the most important exam of his life.(Gao Kao) I think that this experience also made me appreciate where I live more because of what he said to me. I can’t remember his exact words but I remember him saying something like “I am jealous of you because I think it is not as good that we have so much work. You have more freedom than us.”
Visiting China has also made me feel small in a way I have never felt before.
Visiting the Gobi and just seeing the huge cities and how many people I pass have made me think about how absorbed I can be in my own life, in my own little state. When I was sitting on top of a huge, brown sand dune, I thought about how many people had been where I was sitting and how many people will go there after I leave. I thought about how my footsteps would be erased as soon as the wind picked up and the sand swirled it across the dunes seconds after I ran down my tall dune to leave. Then I think about how the Gobi is only one desert in the world and the part we visited, which seemed huge to me, was only a small part of it. I remember the feeling of being really tiny and insignificant that day but it wasn’t a sad feeling, it was one of realization.”