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Monday July 3, 2017

Today was the first full day in China for us student ambassadors as a part of the Chicago Urban League’s Student Mission Trip. Our schedule was packed from beginning to end. Starting with a wakeup call, which was at 7am, I actually felt well rested for the first time in a while. I left the hotel room to get breakfast and was surprised to find things that I would eat back home like bacon and French toast.

After eating breakfast, we left for orientation and a tour of the campus. Some of the things that I took away from the orientation were some of the facts that emphasized the importance of healthy US-China relations, including the fact that China and America make up 1/3 of the world GDP and ¼ of the world population. The reason that this is something great that stuck out to me is because when you have 2 countries that control that much of the world’s resources, it is important that they are able to see eye to eye, not just for themselves, but also other countries that rely on them.

After the opening ceremony, we took a tour of the campus, which included an extraordinary garden that had some of the most breathtaking architecture that I’d ever seen. We ate lunch on campus, which gave us a wide array of options, no matter what you were in the mood for. After a small amount of down time, we were off to the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was massive, with the palace having over 9,000 rooms and the square being able to fit a million people. Although only about 65% of it was open to the public, I got so much more out of visiting the palace in person than I ever could have from a textbook.

The tour of the palace that followed was amazing. Something that stood out to me was an exhibit of woodwork. There was a very intricately designed model that really allowed me to appreciate this experience even further. After the tour of the palace, we got out of the heat and went for dinner.

The best part wasn’t the food, but getting to know and connect with the Chinese student ambassadors and realizing that even though we come from different places, we have so many more similarities than differences. We are still very early in this trip and have a lot more to dive into, and honestly, I’m still shocked that this is happening to me. Without the Chicago Urban League and this program, there is no way that I would have been able to make it out of the country. Although this day was jam packed, I know that in the end, this experience will allow me to become a more global citizen that isn’t as focused on the things happening directly in front of me, but also the effects that the choices that I am making now will have on people who I have yet to meet, or even people across the world.

~Arek Adams


Our first full day in China was amazing. We started with a wonderful breakfast with plenty of variety. I tried sushi, dragon-fruit and breaded dough. Then we visited the Beijing Language and Culture University (Beijing yu yuan da xue) for an opening ceremony. We learned about Chinese – American relations and met a few professors who worked there. Afterwards, we went on a tour of their campus. It was stunning! I have visited many great colleges such as Northwestern, University of Illinois and John Hopkins University, but none of them compare to the alluring beauty that the BLCU contains. I was able to sit next to a waterfall that is on their campus! Seriously, what campus that you know of has a waterfall?!

During the campus tour, I found out about an amazing biking system that China offers. Any bike that has a scanable code on it can be ridden by anyone at any time after using an app to scan it. It does not cost to scan the bike. The only payment that one would make is an initial deposit once downloading the app. Soon after learning this, I was the first and only person in our group that used the bike instead of walking. Next, we ate lunch inside of the campus dining hall. There were about 20 different dishes of food to choose from.

After lunch, we headed to the best part of the day: The Forbidden City. Directly outside of the Forbidden City’s Southern Gate lies the Tiananmen Square. It has a magnificent monument in the center that recognizes all of their fallen soldiers in their war of independence. Additionally, there is a building that contains a tomb for one of China’s greatest leaders (Mao) who is considered to be a “super idol” for most of their citizens. Across the street from the square is the National Museum of China, one of the largest museums in the world. All of the buildings were huge. I still find it amazing that people from centuries ago could build such an exquisite and sturdy palace that still stands today.

Once we entered the Forbidden City, I was immediately wowed by the sight of the wondrous buildings and architecture. They all had similar builds, but had very different roles in history and to their culture. The most important building, The House of Supreme Harmony, was tremendous and had a bewitching view. It provided the perfect place to take photos.

Once we left The Forbidden City, we ate dinner. Everything was delicious, but I awaited the duck the most. One of their chefs brought it out of the kitchen, cut it up and served it in front of us. It was divine. This was my first time tasting duck. It was a better tasting chicken. Overall, today was a marvelous day. Going to the Forbidden City was on my bucket list,so I can happily say that visiting it has granted me one of the best days of my life. I’m sure that will change as we explore and enjoy more of China.

~Wu Rui Tian (AKA Kristian Walker)