Chinese Exchange Student Reflects on Camp Experience

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Haojing Gao, from China, shares what life was like for her to volunteer at a summer camp as part of CHI’s Short Term Enrichment Program.

I spent a whole month in America and I learned a lot. I worked at a Boys & Girls Club camp as a CIT. I spent most of my time staying with kids. During the days in the camp, I found that there are lots of differences between Chinese kids and American kids. Kids in America have a lot of energy. It was a challenge for me at times but I like American kids very much. I taught them something about Chinese culture and virtue and they gave me their true heart in return. I enjoyed speaking with the counselor as well. Most of them are teenagers and University students so that we had a lot of the same subjects. I also learned some American jokes which are really funny and can help me better know the culture of America.

I love that this program allows you to live with a native family which means I could experience well-rounded American life. I lived with my host family in the country. I grew up in a big city and I study in Shanghai, there is almost no chance for me to experience a peaceful country life. But in America, I know what this kind of life is now. I like this experience that I was woken up by a rooster every morning; I could see turkey parents and their babies wondering in our backyard; I could see deer eat the grass in front of our house; I could see the birds singing out of my window. I also love my neighborhood. People around us are hospitable. Whenever I passed by their house they would say “Hi!”; whenever I met a trouble , they would help me until I figure it out . I was very nerves at first because all people speak different language but a few days went by and I was a member of this neighborhood.

This program helped me a lot. It gave me a chance to know the world, it gave me a chance to experience other people’s life, it gave me a chance to fulfill myself.  From this program I know that by leaving my comfort zone, I can see an incredible world.

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