During my sophomore year, my grade was notified about an opportunity to spend ten days living in the eighteenth largest city in the world: Shanghai. The overflow of excitement that came over me when I heard about the trip can truly be described with only one word: indescribable. I was presented with the chance to face my dream of leaving North America, as I had never done before, and explore a new, fascinating place. Prior to this, I didn't fully comprehend the meaning of the term “the opportunity of a lifetime.” But as I composed an essay discussing why I wanted to go, I gradually began to understand. One person in our grade could go on this excursion, and the selection process was based on one essay. I started my written application with “There is an ancient Chinese proverb that goes something like this: “It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books.” Or in other words, it is more valuable to experience than to merely ponder or dream. It is crucial to endure what you have been taught in order to grasp its every form and foundation. You must encounter to not only interpret based on personal beliefs, but to perceive in accordance with the beliefs of others. To thoroughly understand a culture, you have to immerse yourself in it.” And that is precisely what happened when Miss Gray and I embarked on the Shanghai TrIBES journey this past September. TrIBES is a program created by Concordia International School Shanghai that challenges their students to escape their classrooms and go on an adventure in their local community. Every fall, teachers and members of every grade come together to simply… try something new. From hiking mountains and sleeping under the stars, to riding camels in Mongolian deserts, to teaching orphans English, to cooking international cuisine with renowned Chinese chefs- Concordia's TrIBES allow you to venture outside of your comfort zone in remarkable ways. Miss Gray and I were a part of the Shanghai Tribe which entails a tour of Shanghai and what makes it “the city of old and new.” We woke up bright and early everyday to undergo a- beyond doubt- unconventional escapade. Not only did we hit up some major tourist attractions, but we strolled through back- roads and alleyways… we interacted with people on the street in Chinese… we ate at spots unknown by the average visitor… and we went on scavenger hunts for walnuts and parakeets. Our tour guide Janny had the connections and willingness to help us see sites that your typical tour doesn't cover. Along with many Concordia students and teachers and two other American high schoolers and their chaperones, Miss Gray and I didn't read ten thousand books, but we walked ten thousand miles… both figuratively and literally. We walked everywhere. But that's beside the point. My point is that our trip provided us with more knowledge on what makes the world so diverse and amazing. We made a lasting bond with new friends, each other, and... awareness. Our ideas of what Shanghai would be like was tested sometimes, and this resulted in my opinion of what was… an opportunity of a lifetime. Today, you won't see Shanghai in person, but I hope that each of you can learn a little bit more about this faraway destination that will always stay close to my heart.
Speech on My Trip to Shanghai
March 30, 2017