(1/4) Six weeks ago I received an invitation from the Chengdu Education Bureau to take two students to China to compete in a Youth Debate Challenge. The purpose of the initiative was to create cultural connections and develop a global perspective. This experience was extremely eye opening, and since this was my first time in Asia, I'll share the major observations I took away from Chinese culture
Chinese education is intense. Students participate in an extended school day (8-5:30) while also engaging in night classes. When I asked students if that was exhausting, they didn't think so. Working hard and diligently is all they know. In each primary school classroom I popped in there was a sign that read: "Struggle for a better future." Their work ethic and humbleness was admirable, especially as they all studied and firmly grasped their second language: English
(2/4) Chengdu is often called the 'happiest city' and the 'party capital' of China. As the capital of the Sichuan province in Western China, and with a population nearing 16 million residents, Chengdu is China's fourth largest city. It's also considered one of China's most desirable places to live in because of its slow pace. (Yet, as a native East Coaster, the pace in China was frighteningly fast.)..One of its claim to fame is that it is home to the largest panda research base in the world, which is where DreamWorks studio came up with the idea to create Kung Fu Panda. Overall the lifestyle there is relaxing, with residents knocking off work early to head to tea houses or karaoke bars. Hence, people in Chengdu are jokingly referred to as pandas since they love to eat, sleep, and hang out.