Today was our last full day in the City of Beijing. We began the morning with two lectures; the first session focusing on the Chinese Educational System was taught by Dr. Li Yongcheng, associate professor of International Relations in the School of International Relations and Diplomacy at Beijing Foreign Studies University. For this session, we learned about the differences and similarities in the levels of the Chinese educational system, which was comprised of elementary, secondary, and higher education. Not really unusual, but what made it interesting to us as American students were their extremely longer than our school days. Our second lecture was a continuation of learning the Chinese language. After revisiting our previous lesson on the subject, we were eager to expand our knowledge and learn the next phase of the language, the Chinese Pin Yin, which centered on the phonetics of the alphabet utilizing initials, finals, and tones. By the end of the session, we felt we had moved from beginners to intermediate in the Mandarin language.
Following lunch, we headed back to the hotel to pack our bags as we were scheduled to leave first thing in the morning. By nightfall, we realized that our last day in Beijing had come to an end. Everyone was sad about the prospect of having to say goodbye to such a great place and all of the great people we had met. The sentiment was shared by our host student ambassadors as we somberly participated in the closing ceremonies, and our ‘HBCU’s Rocking China’ group prepared to depart for Hangzhou. Sadness aside, our Beijing Foreign Studies University hosts were really amazing and they kept our experience lively and joyful throughout our time there. Each day was a new opportunity for us to be cultivated and immersed in the Chinese culture. As the ceremony, which consisted of a traditional formal dinner, finally wound down We all shared a toast to “great friends, and great memories,” and our hosts provided each one of us with a picture album featuring photos and highlights of the entire week.