And we’re off! Over the next two weeks, Dr. Junlei Li and I will be supervising a group of seven students on an educational service trip through China. The students come from a variety of backgrounds and majors – from early childhood education to psychology to biology – and have all worked with us for the last few years in the Incubator 143 Research Lab at the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College. We all look forward to learning as much as we can while visiting preschools and kindergartens, village orphanages for children with disabilities, and community hospitals through Shanghai, Qingdao, and Beijing. Over the last year, the students have been working together to prepare for our journey – training with Simple Interactions, an initiative of the Fred Rogers Center that promotes and affirms the human connections between adults and children as the foundational building block of children’s development, learning about Chinese culture and history, and considering how we can best be helpful and spread the legacy of Fred Rogers through neighborhoods different from our own. As we travel and learn together, we will share our experiences and journey, our own learning and growing, and the importance of carrying Fred Rogers’ legacy of helpful appreciation across geographical borders. #FredWithoutBorders
Today was our first travel day, and after our 12-hour flight, we finally arrived in Beijing! When we arrived, we were greeted by our host and driven to our hotel in a van. Along the way, we learned about the population and a brief history of Beijing. After arriving at our hotel, we were given around 20 minutes to put down our luggage and get changed if we wanted. Then, we went to dinner at a small restaurant that was right across the street from the hotel. The food was AMAZING. Then, some of us took a stroll down a large shopping street near our hotel. It had a large amount of stores, restaurants and much more! We walked along and just explored the view around us.
It’s hard for me to believe, but the classes I’m taking here in Bhutan are already nearing their end. There’s still about one more week of condensed classes before we move on to directed research, but in that week we’re packing in a lot of learning. Today I had a pair of field lectures that tie into some of the research projects we’ll be doing here. The first was on biodiversity monitoring the government does to keep track of the animals that inhabit nearby areas. Looking at trail camera footage from within 15 miles of campus, we saw everything from wild boar to leopards and even majestic Bengal tigers. The second was on tree-core research and the methods used to test tree age, health and plot prosperity. This one was particularly interesting because I actually got to bore into some of the blue pines that populate the hillsides near campus.
When I was a little girl, I would often play in my backyard and go down the slide over and over again. In my four- or five-year-old mind, this wasn’t just any slide, it was a magic slide that could transport me to any place in the world … even China! Now, some 14 years later, my magic slide has become an airplane, but the destination remains the same. This time, it will take closer to 15 hours than 15 seconds to travel to China. And this time, it’s real.
Today is Monday, Jan. 19, and it's my first day of classes here in Rome! I am studying at John Cabot University (America's University in Rome). I had my tour the other day, but today I got out of bed early and met my roommates for lunch on the Tiber campus (right across from the Tiber River), and then we started heading toward the other parts of campus.
7 days. That is the amount of time that has elapsed since I arrived In London. My first week out of the US has been exciting, shocking, fun and a little bit weird. Those are about the only words to describe my journey so far, because London is a city that will leave you speechless.