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So it’s been about a month since coming home from Zhuhai, and I’ve been swamped with medical issues, laptop issues, and passport issues, but now everything seems to be sorted out so what better time to reflect back on my DukeEngage experience.

Since coming home, everyone I’ve met up with always ask me how my time in China was, and it’s been difficult to put the experience into words. I always feel like no matter how hard I try to express the moments and feelings I’ve experienced, I can’t do it justice. It’s as if I were showing them a phone-recorded video of fireworks that fail to capture the magnitude and sight of the actual show. The two months I spent in China, were so full of enriching moments that if I told the full story it would easily take me a week to fully express it all. I even find now, after a month of being back home, that I recall old memories that I can tell my family for the first time anew.

Qian, my host brother, still messages me occasionally on WeChat for various English questions, and I send photos to my host family to keep them up to date. While I sometimes tell stories to my friends about how my host family treated me to authentic Chinese cuisine and how it wasn’t my cup of tea, I always think about my host family with a great deal of appreciation and positive memories. Seeing how emotional my host family were as I left made it real hard for me to keep my composure. They always did their best to make me feel like I was their son, and for that I am extremely grateful.

Looking back, I feel like I’ve been fairly receptive to all the new and exciting opportunities in China, and while it was certainly draining at the time, I find that I have plenty of stories to tell now. I have to say that this program has been one of the highlights at my time at Duke because of what I was able to achieve through it. Naturally, I seem like a pretty outgoing, enthusiastic guy, but to be honest I was extremely anxious (with fear and excitement) going into it. I was going to China with no Chinese experience, and I was teaching a Korean pop dance class; I don’t even dance at parties. But I found that the environment that program presents is one of encouragement and support, and it was that that allowed me to feel okay with stepping out of my comfort zone and trying my best.

Overall, I feel very lucky to have been a part of this program, and I cannot put into words about how much fun and how jam-packed this program is. I find that even now I would look back at the old photos and reminisce about all the good times and all the friendships that were made. The only downside is now my future summers are going to seem lackluster in comparison.