–J&H Dance School
–Shanghai Zhou Jie Dance school
This past week has been absolutely spectacular! I can't even begin to comprehend how much planning and how much work went into creating this fabulous trip for us American visitors. Each day has been filled with activity and fun, not even one minute wasted. Although quite tiring, I'm truly grateful to all that have helped to make this an unforgettable trip, especially Zhou Lao Shi who really was the foundation and glue to everything.
Day 1: The Arrival
Although the day was cloudy, rain lightly pattering against the windshield, I felt energized and excited to finally be in Shanghai. The city looked the way I remembered it to be, the only significant changes being the ubiquitous figure of the Expo mascot and the never-present-before trees and plants that seemed to sprout out from all forms of concrete. After such a long plane flight, all I really wanted to do was shower and sleep, so when we arrived at the hotel, which was splendid, I did just that. Then, to my surprise, I was awoken from my nap to discover that we had to go down for a sort of welcome dinner. The food was all uniquely made and beautifully decorated. It was delicious. Since dinner was such an elaborate and welcoming affair, I knew that the rest of the trip would be just as warm and jolly. Oh, how right I was.
Day 2: The Tallest Building
Waking up at 5 AM with a bit of jet-lag was definitely not very fun. By the time it was time to leave to go sight-seeing, I was already starting to feel drowsy, but just the sight of the city was enough to fully wake me up. Looking around, I noticed how much greener Shanghai was; plants, flowers, and trees all thrived throughout the city. It was actually quite a surprise but a very pleasant surprise at that! When we reached our destination, the tallest building in Shanghai, I had to crane my neck upwards to look at the enormous building. Even after getting a slight crick in my neck, I couldn't see the top (but maybe that was because of the cloud cover). The building pretty much towered over everything, a giant among giants. Touring the top of the skyscraper, riding in the ipod-like elevator, and jumping over the see-through glass floor, I had an amazing time! Although the rainy weather made it impossible to see the rest of the city at the 100th floor, I felt like I was flying or floating through clouds because everything outside was white (since the clouds engulfed the top of the building).
After traveling around the city for a bit more, we went to the Shanghai dance school. Admittedly it was a bit embarrassing and also very flattering that all the children lined up before us, clapping in welcome. Everybody was so kind and the atmosphere was so warm that I couldn't help but smile back. It was a wonderful feeling. All the girls danced for us, and we in turn performed for them, then did a couple of exercises together. Even though it was a bit awkward at first, meeting the girls and making new friends, by the end of the day I felt like we had all gotten a little closer and bonded a bit more. This feeling of unity forged between our two sister schools was created through dance, and I hope that this bond will continue to grow stronger as our dance schools grow stronger.
Day 3: An Ancient Town
The small town was absolutely beautiful. Old paintings decorated the walls, artfully carved furniture filled the rooms, and it looked as if each part of the house was designed to link flawlessly with the next. Truthfully, I think the funnest part of that trip was watching these two black birds speak Chinese. They would say random phrases like “Ni hao” and “Gong shi fa cai”. It was delightful! I always appreciate seeing small wonders like that because it's usually the small things that leave the greatest impressions on people.
During the second half of the day, we went to Zhou Lao Shi's Qingpu school opening to perform. Again we were greeted with rows of smiling children, welcoming us warmly. After practicing a short combination called, I believe, holding hands, I frantically got ready to perform in front of the guests. Personally, I thought that we represented America and Zhou lao shi well, and hopefully that was the case. Overall, it was a very successful and tiring day.
Day 4: Professionals
I can honestly say that this day was one of the best thus far. Watching the professional dancers was really like a dream come true. They all worked their hardest during practice, not slacking and doing everything 100% even though it was supposed to be their holiday. Their emotion, technique, and stage presence were all amazing and flawless. I'm actually quite enamored with them all. Each and every one of them danced beautifully, and they're passion truly shone through with each of their movements. There really are no words to describe the feeling I felt: awe, inspiration, adoration, and determination are just a few of the emotions I felt. It was truly an honor being able to watch them dance, being able to watch them create art before my eyes.
So, after an emotionally turbulent morning, we went to go and watch an exciting acrobat show. Even though I've seen many acrobat shows before, this one still managed to keep me on edge and wanting more. The way that the scenes were pieced together was gracefully executed. Plus, the props and scenery used combined to give the show a more mystical feeling which made it all the more spectacular. My personal favorite part of the show was when the crazy monkey-like men started flipping onto each other off of a see-saw. Their stunts were, simply put, fantastic! How in the world would they even begin to practice performing such feats? Really, acrobats never seize to amaze me for the daredevil tricks that they pull always thrill me. Truly, being able to watch so many people do what they love most only inspired me to become better and strive towards bettering myself.
Day 5: I'm on a Boat
Can you say, fun fun FUN? Going to the Jahwa company and just relaxing for a day, watching movies and looking at the scenery, was really a once in a lifetime chance. Visiting Jahwa was really a kind of life lesson for me. Seeing how nondescript and how unassuming the president was, I was quite surprised. My mother told me that the company made close to $600 billion a year, but the president of Jahwa didn't seem the least bit arrogant nor did he exude a feeling of superiority. He felt like every other person, and watching him just interact with his subordinates, mingling with his employees made me really respect him as a person. To own such a large company, yet be able to stay so nice to strangers and little children like us is truly a feat in itself. I mean, what big CEO in America would lend out their personal yacht to a bunch of kids? His generosity really touched me and truly made Shanghai all the better, especially because almost everyone we met that day was just as kind and caring as he was.
I think that being around so many wonderful people helped make our Huangpu river tour a lot funner. The atmosphere and the feeling of freedom that accompanies speeding down a river all combined to make me, and I'm sure everyone else, a little crazy. I think we all felt a little giddy from being treated so well, almost like celebrities. Thus, we felt the need to yell and scream on the boat, to shout out our pride for our home and for our dance school; to yell our appreciation so that all could hear, and to let loose and go wild in a city that we all had come to love. It was freeing; it was fantastic, enough said.
Day 6: Expo
Ah, the expo. Well, again we were treated like VIPs, like first class celebrities. I'm so thankful to Zhou Lao Shi and all that helped to give us such a miraculous opportunity and experience. Not having to wait in line and riding in that nice bus with AC was a marvel that I can just barely comprehend. I mean not even high-up politicians are treated so well! I actually feel quite undeserving of such treatment but all the same, I'm ever so grateful (times a million).
The expo really was a site to behold. Shanghai put so much effort into making the expo perfect, and they succeeded spectacularly. The architecture was all so innovative, unique, and beautiful! Even the insides were artfully decorated, every wall holding some significant meaning or another. We got so lucky in being able to go to 6 pavilions in a day when everyone else normally only gets to at most 2 or 3. We got to visit Italy, Poland, Japan, Spain, Denmark, and Sweden (in that order) and each pavilion had its own culture embedded within, its own way of displaying its country to the world. I think that my favorite pavilions were Italy and Sweden for it looked as if those two pavilions spent the most time in making not only their outsides amazing but also their insides meaningful. I noticed that throughout the pavilions they each broadcasted their own interpretation of what “Better city, Better life” meant. But a common theme throughout was their basis on “green” innovations. I especially enjoyed looking at how each pavilion portrayed this basic pattern, and I loved seeing new structures like interesting furniture or technology that the countries developed.
Though the expo was absolutely fascinating, it was also one of the most tiring places I've ever had the pleasure of visiting, but it was really well worth it.
Day 7: Shanghai Pavilion
It was a real honor to me being able to perform at the world expo and more specifically at the Shanghai pavilion. The opportunity to be, if only for a short while, part of Shanghai's culture and one of Shanghai's representatives brought my gratitude to everybody's planning of our trip to whole new heights. I'm glad to say that performing at the expo did not make me nervous at all, surprisingly! I felt more exhilarated and enthusiastic if anything! I hope that our short performance made the audience happy, especially after having to wait in the heat for so long. I always feel better when giving back to the community or in helping others. Also, volunteering at the expo made me appreciate the effort that all the true volunteers put into making sure to uphold their city and their country's honor. While interviewing the workers and volunteers, I got a sense that they were all extremely proud to be apart of the crew that made the expo an expo, and they are rightfully so. Everybody I spoke with, despite the long wait and terrible weather, were all so happy about being at the expo, seeing the accomplishments of Shanghai and viewing all the stunning exhibits. They all seemed so united in their single-minded determination to make the expo and their experience of it the best that it can be. I really felt the patriotism exuding from each and every Chinese citizen there, the patriotism and the pride that they felt at being Chinese, and I couldn't help but feel that same rising emotion in my heart at the thought that “I too am a part of all of this”.
Day 8: Professional Testing
Again we got to watch the spectacular Shanghai Opera dancers and at their important once a year testing no less. I feel really blessed to have been able to see them dance not once but twice. If I had thought that they were amazing before, then now I basically think of them as dance gods. Their determination and professionalism really knows no bounds! I was so impressed with each and every one of the dancers, but especially with the male dancers. I mean it seemed like almost a quarter of the testers were injured and yet they were still brave and courageous enough to dance on, to test, to try their best, and to persist despite the pain. Though I had my own favorites out of the girl and boy dancers, I can't help but be awed with how hard and each and everyone tried. I could tell that they were all pushing themselves to their limits and not letting anything get them down; even when they fell out of a turn or messed up a combination they did not quit or grimace or cry, they just kept smiling and just kept dancing on as if nothing was wrong. To be able to let such large mistakes not affect one's performance at all is really what makes one a professional, the spirit to get back up even when all hope seems to be lost.
Day 9: Animals Galore
Well, another day has passed and all I can say is, “Wasn't that just freaking fun?!”. Today, we got to visit the Wild Life Animal Park where we drove around in a bus like a safari, getting up close to the wild animals to take pictures. My favorite part about this zoo was the fact that we got to interact with the animals so much! Never before have I been able to do these things anywhere else like taking pictures with a baby tiger, riding an elephant, feeding kangaroos, and having lemurs jump all over me. Being able to touch and to interact one-on-one with the animals really was exhilarating and the best! Today was filled with a bunch of firsts with me and now I can proudly say that , “I got the chance to ride an elephant! I got to feed like 20 kangaroos! I had about 8 lemurs climb and jump onto my head!” It was truly too much fun for me to handle, and again all I can do is thank everyone who helped make this like a dream come true!
So, like I said before this trip so far has really been one of the best that I've ever had! Everyday is filled with a new experience, a new event, and a once in a lifetime opportunity. I still can't even begin to appreciate how much work everyone put in and how nice everyone has been to accompany us everywhere we go; we've had the pleasure of being escorted by presidents, by professionals, by people who are the best at what they do! I'm still a bit shocked and flattered to be treated so well by people of such high status! And it feels so insignificant to only say a simple thank you, but really that is all I can do. So, to all that have made this trip so wonderful, and I'm positive that it will continue to be so, THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
So far, this trip to Shanghai has been very exciting, very interesting, and very fun. From the moment we arrived, people have been nice, polite, and courteous. Our drivers, tour guides, and teachers take every chance to help us and lead us in the right directing.
When we visited the Shanghai World Finance Center on our first day, I thought, “Wow, this is what Shanghai is like”. Although I couldn't see anything due to the pouring rain, I could imagine the impressive view of the city of Shanghai.
Later that day, we met amazing and hard working students and teachers at the Zhou Jie Dance School in Shanghai. Our wonderful teacher, Zhou Jie, introduced us to many people who have already made a positive influence on my life.
The next day, we attended the opening ceremony of the QingPu Zhou Jie Dance School. This ceremony gave us the chance to interact with the students in Shanghai and show them that even us Americans can dance Chinese.
On Monday morning, the third day of our camp, we had the chance to see the amazing Shanghai Opera House's dancers. Their skill and gracefulness can only be achieved through hard work and determination. They make me want to work harder in dance and everything in life to be successful like they are. Afterwards, we had a private call with one of the student there who taught us part of a QiPao dance. It was extremely interesting to learn such a unique dance.
That evening, we watched an acrobatics show titled “Time Travel”. The ridiculously dangerous stunts they performed had me leaping out of my seat. I was so worried that the acrobatics would fall and hurt themselves. Even so, the show was absolutely breathtaking.
On the night of the next day, we got to look at Shanghai from a completely different point of view: one from a luxury ship on the HuangPu river. The city at night brought the craziness out of all us kids. We went wild! “USA! Texas! J&H Dance School! We love Shanghai!” are some of the many things we shouted while waving to the people on shore. We thought that the louder we shouted the more people would wave back at us. It felt so good to let out all this energy and have fun. I have to say that night had to be one of the most memorable moments in my life.
On our fifth day in Shanghai we visited the 2010 World Expo as VIPs, which meant we didn't need to wait in any lines. We explored so many pavilions: Italy, Poland, Japan, Spain, Denmark, and Sweden. Each exhibit was filled with history and extremely interesting and unique. Unfortunately though, the younger kids have no interest in history so we left early. Thankfully, we had already visited all the pavilions we were scheduled to go to.
The second day that we visited the Expo, we performed in the Shanghai Pavilion. So many people watched as we danced and received our volunteer certificate. I was so excited and nervous even though I knew I would do fine... and I did. My job as a volunteer was to stamp passports. It was interesting to see how exciting all the visitors were.
“Shopping”. That was the one thing that rang through my mind on our seventh day. We visited two shopping centers and I spent almost 300 yuan. It was so fun to walk around and look at all the cute toys, bags, and clothes. “I love shopping!”
Today, the eighth day of our trip marks our one week anniversary in Shanghai. We toured the Shanghai Wild Animal Park and observed many unique animals. We got to take pictures with sea lions and baby tigers, ride horses and elephants, and even feel pigeons and lemurs while they sat on your shoulder. I love the feeling of being so close to the animals and nature.
I had so much fun on my trip and I owe it all to Zhou Jie, our amazing tacher who did so much to give us the best of the best. All the opportunities I've had this past week are all thanks to the effort she put in. so thank you so much Zhou Jie Lao Shi. I love Shanghai!
Due to that awful plane ride I had a negative attitude that day,ButWhen I stepped off the plane that second it felt as if I had entered a whole new world.
For the first time I finally visited the “Zhou Jie Dance School” in Shanghai.When I enetered, the students all scared me with applauses.Even though it gave me a fright it gave me a warm welcome.They all performed for us and it felt like they were better than me.It made me want to “JIA YO”.
Once again they invited us in with a warm welcome again.They presented us with a Hai Bao!, and they made us sign on the grand opening sign,it made me feel like a celebrity for once.I am happy I made lots of friends today and received presents today.
Watching the Pro. Dancers dance for just a minute made me feel like I have to work harder than ever and be in the place they have reached right now.
Today was the most funnest day ever!We all had boarded the president of Jahwa's ship.Most of us all went up to the top pf the ship and started shouting to people on the dock.”I love you Shanghai!”,”U.S.A!”,”TEXAS!”,”J&H DANCE!!” etc. I've heard that teacher Zhou was emotionally tearing up from our shouting phrases.
Today we visited the Italy,Poland,Japan,Denmark and Sweden pavilions.They were amazing.Every pavilion was nicely done,it was as if you flew over to another world and knew everything about it in just minutes by just looking at displays.
Volunteering at the China pavilion was very fun.It was fun looking at people staring at us weirdly as if we were to young to work at the pavilion.I am really glad I helped out people today and experience the reality in Shanghai.
Watching the Profession dancers take there test was really interesting.I was amazed at what I had seen.The test was taken very seriously,either pass it or byebye.I was really concerned of my future if I don't work hard.They included emotions/feelings in their dances which I don't have.
The Zoo was really fun.I had thought kangaroos were dangerous to get around but I was wrong.We fed them and touched them!