Episode 19: The Finale- Back in Cali Baby! 

It feels good to be home, although I miss China so much and the people I spent a month with. In the 4 days that I've been home, I find myself infusing Chinese culture into my life like cooking (I made myself squash porridge today), drinking tea more, and practicing jianzi everyday to name a few. 
Thank you again to everyone who watched these videos. It really means a lot to me that you took time to watch because I spent a lot of time making the website, editing videos, and writing my reflections on this site. 

I would love to hear from you, so please contact me through the 'Contact Me' button at the top or send me an email directly to my personal email at SEDURIFAM@GMAIL.COM

Episode 18: Tokyo Lights

Leaving China was both saddening and exciting because I was going to miss it so much. However, I knew that I would be home soon, but first make a stop in Tokyo and actually have plenty of time to leave the airport and see the city. I landed at Narita Airport at 2pm and had a 12:30am flight leaving from Haneda Airport which is over an hour away. 
I found out that one of the girls, Olivia who was part of my program in China was on the same flight as me and is going to be living in Tokyo for a year so it was a great opportunity to have company helping me see the city. Since she spoke Japanese it was easier to get around and ask for help to get to different places. 
Tokyo is a beautiful city. It is very clean, modern, with lots of culture in the streets. In the few hours I had, I got to see where Olivia would be staying during her study abroad, eat some DELICIOUS Japanese food, and visit the bright lights and night life of the Shinjuko District. 
On this last leg of my trip, I was grateful to get the chance to leave the airport and see a small part of Tokyo and taste really good food. Thanks for showing me around your hood Olivia! From here, I'll be back in the States and close this video blog out with a some words about this entire experience.

Episode 17: The Great Wall & The End

So most of you probably are wondering when I was going to do the most epic thing in China, CLIMB THE GREAT WALL! Well here it is. The very last day, we tackled this monster and made it to the top of one side of the wall. The best part of this was spending time with the Autobots aka SD people and getting to the summit together. I'll never forget this.
Our final event of the program was the farewell dinner and closing ceremony. It was a time to celebrate, receive our certificates of completion, take pictures, and spend the last night together with new friends. Goodbye China, you were beyond what I imagined. Thank you for taking good care of me. I'll be back soon! LOL Thank you to Pan, Lian, and Nelly for coordinating this program and being patient with us during difficult outbursts. LOL It was awesome to represent San Diego with all you Autobots. After spending a month with you guys everyday, I'm definitely going to miss you guys. I'll see you next summer China kids! To all the other participants, it was a pleasure meeting you and I'm honored to learn so much for your stories, which motivates me to continue trying to make a difference in this world. I'll miss you and hope to cross paths with you again.

(I wanted to get everyone in my individual pictures with people, but my camera went into a coma that night and I couldn't get through my rounds. Know that even if you aren't in the video, I love you just as much.)

Episode 16: Datong Pt. 4- So Hard to Say Goodbye

Thank you a million times to my host family who took me in as their own. I'm going to miss you so much especially my little bro Justin. On our last day teaching, all the students gave us a good send off. We also had a final recap meeting with the entire school and parents where we individually spoke a little about our experience. After, our families all took us out for a farewell dinner together then to KTV for some more karaoke. 
The next day was hard for everyone to say goodbye as we boarded the bus and reminisced on our week. Datong was not what we expected. It most definitely surpassed our expectations. The people made this city come alive. Having Sheveena, Arthur, John, Jake, Nick, Justin, and all the families made my stay so great. I'll never forget my Datong fam. Much love. 

Episode 15: Datong Pt. 3- Gong Qi Guang Chang!!!

GONG QI GUANG CHANG!!! I absolutely love love this place! It is the main plaza in Datong where lots and lots of people go to hang out and chill. People sit around and socialize, play jianzi (Chinese shuttlecock), play ball, dance, shop, and other games. This is the best thing about China to me, that people are just outside enjoying each other's company. At this plaza, you can simply join any group and play with them and everyone at the plaza is very friendly no matter what age. There is also a night market that surrounds the plaza where you can buy toys, CDs, clothes, snacks, drinks, etc. 
Since Datong is more inland that Beijing, there are less foreigners so people gravitate towards them especially Americans. It was pretty fun to have people crowd around me and stare as if I were a celebrity. LOL They were curious about what I was saying and everything I had with me. They were even amused to see us playing Chinese games. At the plaza I enjoyed jump roping with these group of teens that brought a huge rope.It was equally cool to see that Datong had a bboy scene. When they saw me standing in the crowd, they pulled me in because they thought I could break dance (little did they know). LOL But since I had to do something and not disappoint the crowd, I busted out a few steps for them. :)

Episode 14: Datong Pt. 2- If I Became a Teacher...

In Datong, all the American student were sent to different English schools to guest teach for a 1 week. I was sent to an YiLin school along with 4 other Americans. I taught about 10 different classrooms plus an "English Corner" on basic English such as greetings, numbers, alphabet, phonetics, and American culture. The students ranged from ages 8-16 with different levels of English. 
As soon as we got to school, the students were so curious about us and happy that we were there. At every moment they would try to steal peeks of us, take photos, ask for autographs, etc. In class, the younger students were more rambunctious and as they got older they would speak less. It was both fun and a challenge to come up with solid teaching material that was educating and fun. Most times, we would be told what to teach about at the beginning of class so there were a lot of improvisation, but thanks to my summer camp experience and other work with children, I was able to come up with a lot of fun games and things to talk about. 
This was one of the best experiences I had on this program. Thank you to the entire YiLin staff, teachers, and students for hosting us and for all your warm hospitality. 

Episode 13: I <3 Datong!

Datong is a city located in the Shanxi province, northwest of Beijing. It is a very historical site for China because it was one of nine strategic locations along the Great Wall border and the Silk Road. It has many western influences from the Middle East and today is still one of the hidden treasures of China. 
The title sums up my entire experience here in Datong. I really love this city, not only because the weather was fantastic (similar to Southern California), but the people that lived here are so warm and friendly. In this episode you will meet my host family and get to explore the Yungan Grottes. These caves had amazing architecture and sculptures carved into the mountain. I felt like I was Indiana Jones exploring these caves. At the end of the video you will get to see KTV, which is a Vegas-like karaoke place on steroids! LOL My host brother brought the house day with his famous rendition of "Baby" by Justin Bieber!

Episode 12: Chinese Power Rangers!!!

On a special day, we visited a Chinese Kindergarten which specialized in performing arts. This Kindergarten had several children who were orphaned from the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. As soon as we got off the vans, the school gave us a warm welcome. There were students lined along the entrance holding flowers to welcome us. We also were treated to many performances by the children at the school. We returned the favor by performing several songs and dances to entertain the kids.
After the showcase, we were able to visit the classrooms and give some students gifts/toys. I opted to give them little cars and CHINESE POWER RANGERS! HAHA It was such a fun time to play with the kids and interact with a few of them. These children were so cute and talented. 

Episode 11- Mountain Getaway 

For a few days, our program brought us to the mountains. It was a beautiful place where we got to hike, visit a temple, and just bond with the other students in the program. On one of the nights, the local community held a dance party for us and even performed some acts before we set the party off. This was an amazing place to visit during my month long trip to China.

Episode 10: Back to Beijing

It was nice to return to Beijing and experience a big city once again. Along with the big city, came traffic and lots of pollution. Despite this, we were able to enjoy touring the city and visiting the major electronic market, 798 Art District, which is an awesome place to scope out the Chinese art scene. It has lots of free standing sculptures and figures, free exhibits, shopping, and graffiti art. I enjoyed seeing my name stenciled in a lot of different places in this very large district. There were these cool London phone booths placed at certain parts of this place. We attempted to fit as many bodies into one of these as possible. I believe we got 7 in total. 
Another place that we got to visit was a paper making factory were we got to see paper being made and printed. Then an entire assembly line binding books. This was our stop before we made the trip up the mountain at the Confucius Institute. 

Episode 9: Shijiazhuang Pt. 3- I'll Miss You

Words cannot express how thankful and honored I was to meet everyone in this city. I could not have asked for a better Chinese family. In this episode, my host family treat me to an incredible Peking duck restaurant. For those of you who haven'y tasted it, OH MY LADY GAGA! (a trending Chinese expression LOL), it is so freakin delicious. After dinner we walked over to a plaza/park where hundreds of people or out and about just enjoying one another's company. This is probably the best part of China to me. I love that people go out and do things together, dance, play games, shop, etc. At this place, there's usually a night market where you can buy all sorts of things. My host sister bought me a dragon formed with hardened syrup that the man artistically created. This is really something to watch. I wanted to save it and take it back to American, but it was way to fragile which resulted in me having to devour it. LOL 
Like they say, all good things must come to an end. So at the end of the week, we all had to say goodbye to the students at the school and watch them wave goodbye as we drove off. Shijiazhuang was probably the cleanest place I've seen in China. It was definitely a place that I could live in. 
Thank you to my host family again for everything you did for me. I cannot stop saying how grateful I am for getting the opportunity to be a part of your family for the week. I miss you guys and look forward to the day I can visit again.

Episode 8: Shijiazhuang Pt. 2- Creation of Jiaozi

Our stay in Shijiazhuang lasted for a brief 5 days. In this time, I was able to explore the city and bond with my host family. They kept me fed very well. On a particular day they wanted to make me jiaozi or in English, dumplings, from scratch. I was there to learn through every step of the process, starting with going to the market to pick up the ingredients. I had to cut a lot of clips out because of the video size limit. This was the first way that I bonded with my host family and can now say that I can make jiaozi. I'm pretty excited to try making somewhen I get home. 
Hit me up if you want to learn how! LOL

Episode 7: Adventures in Shijiazhuang

After the summit, all the American student grantees took part in the phase two volunteer action portion of the program. The first stop was to teach high school students in a city called Shijiazhunag, which is in the Hebei province north of Beijing. I really didn't have any expectations of this city so every experience was exciting. 
Upon arriving at the school, the Chinese families who would host us were waiting in a lecture hall. It was a bit intimidating to sit there while families picked us out. Luckily for me, I stood out with my red baseball cap and was chosen by a 15 years kid named Jay. His Chinese name is Zhao Teng Fei. It was a bit difficult communicating with him because he did not speak a lot of English. As we left the school, I felt vulnerable and nervous going home to a Chinese family in a place and language I hardly knew. When we arrived at home, I met his family who lived with him, which included his twin sister, Lin Yao Zhao aka Lorina, his cousin Tang Wen Jing aka Wendy (who I personally, and honored to have given her English name), his mother Tang Hui Min, his father Zhao Jin Tian, and his aunt Li Xiang Xia. 
One of the best experiences I had teaching in Shijiazhuang was riding a bike to school every morning. It really gave me the feeling of living in China as a citizen and doing something I never do back home.The family really showed me Chinese hospitality, accommodating me in every way, and even taking me to their hometown to visit a temple and their pear orchard business, which really blew me away. What moved me even more was meeting their grandparents and extended family, which really connected me with their family and the Chinese culture.

Episode 6: Power of the Youth

After a week of freedom in Beijing, the 2011 Global Development Youth Summit started. Students coming from America were met at the airport or subway station and taken to the conference venue. The conference was held to empower youth and provide a vehicle for networking among American and Chinese youth. 
This was an amazing opportunity where I learned so much about the issues that world is facing and the role I can play as a young person to change it for the better. Each group was responsible for leading an hour long workshop about a certain topic. My group lectured on Environmental Sustainability Municipal Waste. It was a lot of work to plan and create this workshop. We spent time in San Diego, Beijing before the summit, and the nights of the summit preparing for this conference. Many students gave us positive feedback regarding our workshop, which was good to hear after all the hours of work.
Finally I'd like to thank all the students who attended and whom I have had the honor of meeting during this 3 day summit. I would especially like to thank Dr. Lilly Cheng again for this opportunity and of course, my San Diego family, Ryan, Justin, Ha, Jeff, Norma, Kristian, Efan, and Katie. Thank you for all your hard work and for all the good memories we're making. Love you guys!

Episode 5: Run This Town

I can't say this enough, but Beijing is soooo HUGE and the fact that there is soooo many people EVERYWHERE continues to blow my mind. In this episode, you'll see me exploring lots of shopping areas, restaurants, bars, etc. This was probably the last few times before the start of the summit so you already know... who gon' run this town tonight?! Eyy...eyy...eyyyy!! I GON' RUN THIS TOWN TONIGHT!

Episode 4: Scorpions Starfish and Spiders, OH MY!

Ni hao!!! I haven't been able to post in a while because I've been really busy during the summit, but now that it's over I can post a new video. This video was captured before the summit, so its outdated, but I'm going to try to get it all up to date soon. 
Beijing is such an enormous city that I am just in awe of everything that I am experiencing. I got to see the new CCTV building in the China Business District and explore so many streets and alleys. One of the places that I loved was Wangfujung street where you can buy live scorpions to eat and other exotic creatures. I've also gotten to try so much tasty Chinese food. 

Episode 3: Dreams DO Come True

IM FINALLY IN CHINA!!!!! When I first landed, it didn't really hit me that after so long of wanting to visit that I was finally here. The feeling came when I stepped outside the terminal and felt the warm night air and seeing how crowded the place was. On my way figuring out how to get to my hotel where my friend was staying, I had an adventure that took me a couple hours through dark alleys full of gamblers, prostitutes, and busted up streets. However, through the darkness, I met a couple of girls that were extremely helpful in helping me find where to go. They walked me all the way down an alley to my hotel. When we got there, I wanted to thank them by giving them some money for the trouble, but they humbly refused it and playfully ran away when I insisted on giving them money. 
Getting some rest, the next morning, I had a full adventure of trying to cross the street (cars have the right of way!), exploring a large part of Beijing, buying a belt for about $6 and some Ray Bans for $5 at the Silk Market, and eating some delicious food with the rest of my friends, Ha, Katie, and Justin.
We stumbled onto an amazing park which gave us a different prospective of urban Beijing. Through the tranquility of this place, I further came into realization that I really am in China.  

Episode 2: Birthplace of Origami

My feet are finally on the ground in Japan at the Narita-Tokyo airport. It was an 11 hour flight, but I knocked out as soon as I got on the plane so it seemed like a surreal short plane ride! All I remember is falling asleep, waking up to eat, sleeping again, waking up to eat, sleeping, eating, then watching a movie. HAHAHA 
As soon as I got off the plane, I started looking around for difference and noticed the recycle bins are sorted out by paper, plastic, aluminum, etc. Very GREEN! Other things that I felt was the disadvantage of not being able to read a lot of things (although there are a lot of bilingual signs). Highlight of this layover was the origami shop/museum... only in Japan! Anyway this was my 4 hour layover before I continue on to Beijing! Again, I apologize for lame video. I noticed that I'm missing narration in my videos! I'll fix this in my next one. LOL 

Episode 1: Until August Cali! Zai Jian!! 再见!!

My first video is really weird because I feel awkward filming myself in public when I feel people are staring at me. LOL But in time I'll get the hang of this and be more myself by my 3rd video. HAHA Anyway thanks again for watching and I hope you enjoy China through my beautiful brown eyes! (I hate that I'm so close up.)