Dragon’s China: South of the Clouds fall group is made up of extremely intellectual and world-aware individuals. It seems that being ‘away from the world’ in glorious places such as the Tibetan Plateau, bustling cities like Beijing, Xi’an, Chengdu, and smushed into crowded buses (with impatient, death-wishing bus drivers) has opened up the students’ and the awesome instructors’ willingness to discuss various issues of the world. Whether it be the insanity of the college selection process, the refugee crises (of which Ron has dozens of facts at the tip of his tongue to spill), or political leadership and election processes, or how in Los Angeles, political focus is entirely on the poor: where is the public transportation system and why can’t you build up residentially? (Laureen, I still need more basis to further contemplate this), or even participating in organized group discussions on the untold truth behind the grannies dancing in city streets and trash production.
There are even conversations I haven’t personally heard: taxation without representation, regarding Palestine and Israel, public education, public opinion on forest fires, mass incarceration, etc. But don’t misunderstand; we are still a group of 11 teenagers (and three instructors) who gossip on relationships, parties, food (fried chicken sandwiches, and oh my god where is the peanut butter in China?), and our poop scale.
As the next young minds in the world, it’s beautiful how we as a group and as individuals recognize these and present our ideas. We’re all away from our homes, thus seemingly awakening even further this critical mindset about how to improve this world we live in. And most importantly, we’ve all realized that we really should’ve brought jeans (niu zia ku) on this trip.