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Greetings from Shuier

Hey everyone, Shuier here!

Let me begin by saying that words really can’t express how excited I am about our trip this summer. I first came across Dragons in the summer of 2006 when I taught Chinese to a summer group passing through Kunming, my hometown. When I checked out Dragons’ website at the time, Silk Road was THE program which stood out and stuck to my mind. I remember myself thinking, ‘Wow, this sounds so interesting and fun. I wish I can be on it one day.’ Here we are, 12 years later my wish has finally been answered by the deities living along the mysterious Silk Road. Even better, I have three amazing co-instructors as well as you all to share this journey with.

I grew up in Kunming, a small city (in Chinese standard) in southwestern China’s Yunnan province.  I developed an interest in English and western culture at a young age from pirated Michael Jackson cassettes and very rare copies of National Geographic. The West represented civilization, excitement and exoticism for me, so I majored in English for my undergraduate degree, and eventually moved to the UK in 2005 to further my study. Initially I only planned to stay in the UK for one year, but before I knew 11 years passed. During my time in the UK, I did two translation and interpreting related Masters degrees, worked as a Project Manager for a British furniture design company, been a Sales Manager at a luxury Swiss watch store, and most recently sold millions pounds worth of residential real estate to investors from around the world. But after 11 years away from China, I started to feel that something was missing in my life, something in me was disappearing gradually, that was my Chinese identity. A strong urge to reconnect with my home country and my own culture pulled me back to China in 2016. A lot has changed in China when I was away. Emerging as one of the biggest economies in the world, with its complex social and political history, China fascinates me like never before.

I joined Dragons as an instructor in summer 2016, since then I have led many trips in China. Cycling and watching sunset on top of the ancient city wall in Xi’an, hiking up Zhongnan Moutain in the hope of encountering mysterious hermits, learning how to make momo (a form of dumpling) with my Tibetan homestay mum and doing Kora with locals at Labrang monastary early in the morning, I couldn’t have even dreamt about those experiences when I was working in a sales office in London. Travelling with groups of curious teenagers like yourselves has helped me to experience and ask questions about China from a brand new perspective. More importantly, it has been helping me to discover who I really am and who I aspire to be. I thought it was impossible to hike up that mountain, but I was on top of it with everyone else cheering for ourselves. I thought I would freak out if I had to poop in the open air, but I enjoyed the view more than I have expected. I thought a 15 hour night bus ride would bore me to death, but I had many inspiring conversations with my friends and a snack party. I am very happy to be proven wrong, it means I am learning and growing.

I look forward to exploring, discovering, thinking, questioning, learning and most importantly, having fun with you all this summer. Leave your assumptions about China and yourself at home. Pack curiosity and open-mindedness, and let’s do this!

As the summer is approcahing, let’s get started with self-introductions here on the Yak Board. In the coming weeks and throughout the trip, this Yak Board will be our main platform for commuication. We (your instructor team) will post useful packing tips, tips for homestay gifts and so on here, so stay tuned! And of course if you have any questions about the trip, please feel free to ask here. We are here for you!