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The Yunnan Experience

By Marji L., Loyola New Orleans, TBC Spring 2018

After only being in Beijing 3 weeks, it was time for the Yunnan excursion. I wasn’t too familiar with Beijing yet, so how was I supposed to adjust to different villages and cities where locals speak their local dialects?! Nonetheless, I was excited for the upcoming challenges and experiences. The Yunnan excursion is a two week trip planned by The Beijing Center every Spring semester around Chinese New Year break. The itinerary is packed and filled from start to finish! We were on a tight schedule to visit and learn about a few of the 56 minority groups in China. We were in Yunnan to learn, explore, and make friends we’d never forget.

My best memory from the Yunnan excursion 

The best memory I have from the Yunnan excursion is the hike on the rice terraces in the Hani village. It was such a challenge for me because I have a fear of heights and hiking through the rice terraces was nerve wrecking. I was so afraid to fall and injure myself. When the time came to walk against the rice terraces, I felt my heart in my throat. When we made it to the end, I felt so relieved and accomplished. That was a moment I never thought I’d experience. Even though it was terrifying, it was all worth it. I’m grateful for the experience.  

My favorite villages   

Of all the villages we visited, I had two favorites. Different aspects of the Yi and the Dai village peaked my interest. I appreciated the fresh and delicious food from the Yi village. It was the first time I felt I was getting a home cooked meal since leaving home less than a month ago. In addition to their astounding cuisine, their embroidery was incredible as well. Their traditional apparel was intricate with a lot of detail. It amazed me much more once I discovered their apparel was handmade months at a time. It was so uplifting to see the Yi people’s progression and their culture. 

Similarly, to the Yi village I ended up enjoying the Dai village’s food. They had a lot of vegetables and pork. The food was scrumptious. Aside from the cuisine, I admired the Dai village’s architecture and accommodations. Their architecture was similar to traditional Chinese architecture, but it was also Westernized. I was enjoyed this village the most because I wasn’t overwhelmed by the cultural differences. I was comfortable in my learning environment.  

How I packed for the trip 

I packed lightly which was the best decision I made. It made it easier lugging my medium duffle bag uphill and walking to the hotels. I traveled with one pair of jeans and mostly leggings for more comfort. I brought thin shirts that were easy to hand wash and dry quickly. My advice: pack lightly, so you’re not struggling with your luggage and to allow space for souvenirs. 

How did this excursion help you to get to know your classmates better? 

The excursion put each of us in vulnerable positions where we were often forced to ask for help no matter who it was. It didn’t have to be a close friend you were asking for Pepto pills or even a quick snack. We were all trying to enjoy the trip with some of our given circumstances. If anyone needed anything, everyone was willing to help. We all learned some of each others strengths and weaknesses going on this trip.  

Learn more about TBC’s Yunnan excursion here.