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A student practices working the fields with a water buffalo. Photo by Ming-Jiu-Li, China Summer Program.

Yichang + 3 Gorges Reflections

Hello all! We are currently in a monastery in a rural area outside of Chongqing. We’ll post about this experience soon. For now, check out students’ reflections on their experiences in Yichang and visiting the Three Gorges Dam.

Candela: In Yichang we met so many people! During the scavenger hunt we talked to a teenager that told us about the wonders of this beautiful city. Moreover, we made friends on our boat trip through the Yangtze River. I think that my Chinese is getting better!

Caitlin: I had some great experiences in Yichang over the past few days. Some of my most memorable experiences were talking with and meeting with locals. Unlike Shanghai, very few foreigners tend to visit Yichang. This meant that we were incredibly visible in a crowd of locals. We were often pulled aside for pictures, both on the street and when we traveled by boat through the Three Gorges Dam. These interactions resulted in great conversations about things such as differences between China and the US.

Paco: As our trip to western China continues, Yichang has been one of the best stops so far. I got to fully experience the local lifestyle during the different programs activities and and downtimes. I remember the time I had the craziest haircut in my life. I shaved the symbol of Strength on my head. I look forward to exploring new cities and involving myself even more in the Chinese and Tibetan cultures.

Jose Miguel: even though Yichang has been one of the best parts of the trip so far, I found the Three Gorges Dam to be incredibly interesting; Being able to see firsthand the impact that this project had on Chinese society was an interesting yet mind-blowing experience. I’m looking forward to seeing and understanding more of Chinese daily life during the trip, as well as seeing what China’s wonders have to offer.

Jose Pablo: Yichang is a city that I underestimated before we got there. It has beautiful things and tall buildings. One of my favorite memories is when I sat at a café on the banks of the Yangtze River and just thought about life. I also enjoyed the Three Gorges dam. It is impressive.

Gaby: If Shanghai is like the New York City of China, then Yichang is the Boston. It has very local cuisines, many markets, and lots of weird things to do. Our hostel was across from the river so we had easy access to the public gym, which is like the playground. But, I also liked to just chill by the river with friends. The scavenger hunt was really fun; I got to speak to locals and learn about the city. The Three Gorges Dam was not only gorgeous but I also learned a lot about it. There aren’t a lot of tourists in Yichang, so people were definitely curious. They even asked for pictures, so I felt like a celebrity. There was a little girl in our hostel who was especially curious. She was adorable. I had lots of fun talking to her. Overall, I had a great experience in Yichang… definitely worth visiting.

Rishi: During my time in Yichang, I had the opportunity to explore a different side of China. Prior to Yichang, our trip was centered in large and metropolitan cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Although these big cities are essential components to the identity of China, another vital aspect to China comes from the more rural and nature filled cities. In contrast to Shanghai, Yichang has a closer community of people and is marked by nature with the Yangtze River flowing on the banks of city. The closer community allowed me to interact with more natives and the Yangtze River allowed me to start one of my main goals for this trip: true reflection. Of course, practicing my language skills and exploring China are amazing experiences, however, the ability to sit on the banks of the Yangtze River and reflect was my most rewarding experience in Yichang.

Sarah: One of my favorite memories from Yichang has to be when my friends and I got lost while searching for breakfast in the city. Our journey began after we tried what seemed like the spiciest noodles on Earth and we decided to continue looking for something to eat. Unbeknownst to us, we were walking in the complete opposite direction from where we were supposed to be headed. The amazing smoothies and baked goods that we found along the way definitely made up for the panic of getting lost. This is my favorite memory because we were able to see a different perspective of the city than from what our instructors want from us.

Page: As a foreigner in Yichang, it’s impossible to go unnoticed. In the same way that we are fascinated by Chinese culture, the people we meet are equally curious about ours, and this sense of hyper visibility is possibly the most foreign experience of all. When something as simple as playing cards draws a crowd, we’re constantly aware of how other people view us. Yichang taught me that the most rewarding experiences come not from shrinking at the attention, but from embracing it. And we embraced it. From squeezing three people in a two person cart and cruising along the riverbank, to explaining to the hairdresser that yes, Paco did really want a Chinese character shaved into his hair, almost everything we did drew a laugh. I learned very quickly (from a six year old) that my tones are subpar and my awkward American tendencies are definitely laughable. But running around the city during the scavenger hunt, we didn’t have time to worry about embarrassing ourselves. I couldn’t count the number of people I talked to, or the number of confused looks when I asked them weirdly specific interview questions or tried to join their game of checkers. One man I interviewed told me his name was Chen Long, which translates to Jackie Chan. Once I overcame my embarrassment, I came to really enjoy approaching people and having random conversations in the street. While they were amused by our questionable Chinese, we could laugh at nonsensical English slogan tees like “Happiness is throwing a turkey to your friend”. I discovered that rather than creating a divide between us and the locals, our differences actually inspired conversation and fostered connection.

Vincent: My experience in Yichang was a surprising one compared to the rest of the trip. My favorite experience in Yichang was the Three Gorges Dam and the boat trip. The Dam was an interesting experience and it was very interesting to learn about a topic that has different opinions on other countries. The boat trip was also amazing because I saw great views of the river and the mountains. I also enjoyed the trip because we got to communicate with locals and even got pictures with them. Overall my experience in Yichang was a unique and amazing one and I hope I will have others that are similar.

Rohan: Yichang was such and amazing experience. This city is a place visited by few foreigners so we were treated like aliens (It was very funny). One of my favorite memories was when we visited the Three Gorges Dam and took a boat back. This was a unique experience because there were no foreigners visiting the dam, but lots of people from China instead. While I was there, it seemed as if they were only talking about only the good things about the dam and not the effects on the ones who lived there before. Anyways, the boat ride back was my favorite part because people were treating us like celebrities. In addition to the celebrity-like experience, boating through the Yangtze River was so beautiful. Looking forward to the following experiences that occur after this amazing city.