Letters from China: Time Travel, Subway Adventures, and Getting in the Classroom

Twenty-eight faculty, staff, and students have taken Big Orange Country to China through an English immersion summer camp—and the UT community can follow their adventures over the next two weeks. Team member Lola Alapo, public relations specialist in the Office of Communications and Marketing, is sending back reports about the group’s work and adventures.

From left are Tyvi Small, Haslam College of Business; Lola Alapo, Office of Communications and Marketing; Thorsten Huth, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures; Misty Bailey, College of Veterinary Medicine; Curtis Stewart, Department of Plant Sciences; and student Robert Frederick.

From left are Tyvi Small, Haslam College of Business; Lola Alapo, Office of Communications and Marketing; Thorsten Huth, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures; Misty Bailey, College of Veterinary Medicine; Curtis Stewart, Department of Plant Sciences; and student Robert Frederick.

China day 1:
2:41 a.m. Sunday, June 26

We have arrived in China. Twenty-seven hours of travel, three flight delays, and one epic case of bed head later, we are in Nanjing.

It’s 2:41 a.m. Sunday here. We are already in the future. Haha! It’s weird to think it’s only 2:41 p.m. Saturday in Knoxville. Yay, time travel!

Nanjing is a “small” city of about 7 million people. (The *state* of Tennessee is 6 million people. Ahem.)

Glad to be at the hotel and looking forward to a hot shower and clean clothes. My teeth also feel furry so gotta get to brushing those.

China day 1:
11:37 p.m. Sunday, June 26

It was a bit hard to function with under 4 hours of sleep. But it helped that we took a trip to a part of the city to sight-see and do some shopping.

Breakfast was interesting as it was a combo of foods I typically associate with breakfast (boiled eggs, fruit, hot tea) and then foods I associate with lunch/dinner (rice, dumplings). Some of the items I didn’t recognize or wasn’t used to the flavor so I went easy on the food.

How many Vols does it take to figure out a Chinese subway map?

How many Vols does it take to figure out a Chinese subway map?

About 9:30 a.m., a group of us took a 20-minute walk to the train station so we could catch a train to the Confucius Temple area. For this NYC girl, it was fun to see the train map all in Chinese characters. But it was also nice to have a student with us who is studying Chinese and she helped with reading the map and getting us where we needed to go.

We were quite the tourist attraction as people stared at us, took our pictures and took photos with us!

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We went to the Confucius Temple and it was interesting to learn about his life from birth to his time as a civil servant doing jobs like accounting to his time in public service and then his ascent as a philosopher.

At dinner, we had a hilarious time ordering food. The waitresses didn’t speak English and the menu was all in Chinese. The six of us at the table did manage to get some stuff ordered through pantomime and the few Chinese words one of our dinner party knew: green beans with veggies, chicken with tofu, white rice, and toasted rice cakes, which reminded me of Rice Krispies treats, and dumplings.

China day 2
7:14 p.m. Monday, June 27

We met our students this morning and I am so jazzed for the week!! The caliber of their presentations and responses through group activities indicate these next two weeks are going to be fun for them and for us.

Today consisted of an opening ceremony that is reminiscent of the Olympics. (“I declare the 2016 immersion summer camp open!!” Applause! Hoots! Yay!) We also went to our home rooms to introduce ourselves and get to know the students.

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Rain Flint, a UT kinesiology major and summer camp classroom assistant, supervising during group activities.

We begin teaching our main lessons tomorrow. The teachers’ goal will be to introduce our Chinese students to aspects of American culture through our lessons.

Today made all the travel delays, internet connectivity issues, and campus accommodation inconveniences so worth it. I think we’re all learning flexibility and are being stretched. Good stuff!

We’re eating well but I think we’re taking it slow with the food adventures as we discover our favorite and not-so-favorite meals. The campus convenience stores have been a hit for discovering favorite snacks and trying new ones (grilled squid-flavored potato chips, anyone?)