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Orientation

Note: The group is currently in the ethnically Naxi village of Nanyao, about an hour from Lijiang Yunnan, near a lake called Lashihai. In Nanyao they are living with homestay families and joining the community in celebrating Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), which starts today. They are having difficulty getting online, but instructors passed along this note from Julia, currently taking on the role of group blogger:

 

As this week’s designated blogger, you all get the pleasure of listening to me attempt to be objective and summarize the first few days of this journey, otherwise known as “Orientation”. Let’s begin.

Thursday, 2/8/18: After watching the bus that carried us from the airport in Kunming to this rural village in the hills drive away, the group makes their way through winding alleys and paths to a pristine, white building, a stark contrast to the dilapidated, tan shelters in the surrounding area. We drop our packs in our rooms and then stuff our faces with some of the best Chinese food I’ve ever eaten (objectively speaking, of course). This place, called Goo Day, would be our home for the next few days.

 

Friday, 2/9/18: The day starts off with stretches, breakfast, and our first morning meeting, complete with instructor life stories and getting introduced to the poop rankings (what kind of poop we did each day for health reasons). We go over safety, the Red Rules, other protocols, and safety. The students create two group flags, one with our mission statement and logo, and the other with our Code of Conduct. We also discuss safety. After lunch, all 15 of us walk through the village and around the reservoir that provides water for the entire village. Then it’s free time, dinner, and a TED talk from Wade Davis (the anthropologist, not the baseball player). The entire time, we are very safe.

 

Saturday, 2/10/18: Saturday brings noodles for breakfast and morning sunshine. During our second morning meeting, we are each given a leadership role, which is basically a responsibility. After some more orientation, we make a visit to a beautiful Buddhist temple that houses 500 statues of Arhats, all made by the same dude in seven years. Here, we have individual instructor check-ins and think about how we want to share our life stories (the I-team can’t have all the fun). After dinner, the students head over to another building belonging to Goo Day (where we are staying) and we partake in a candle ceremony where we reflect on what it means to travel.

 

Sunday, 2/11/18: Annie (Dragons’ China Program Coordinator, based in Kunming) briefs us on homestays and we prepare for an overnight train ride to our next destination (I should have finished preparing two minutes ago). So, things have been well. As we continue our journey we move into other people’s homes. During this time, internet connection will be limited, so you probably won’t hear from us, but don’t fret, we will be safe.