Thirteen Campion students spent their first two weeks of summer vacation in western China visiting schools, making new friends, and taking in the sights. This educational and cultural tour went beyond a typical tourist trip and allowed the visitors to go into classrooms to teach, learn, and get to know the local students.
The majority of the trip was based out of Kunming in the Yunnan Province where the group visited four different schools. Campion students were amazed by the warm welcome they received at each of the schools. To audiences of up to 500 Chinese students, both the Campion students and Chinese students shared musical performances and talked about student life at their schools. “It was really awesome to be able to see how different their school environment was compared to ours,” Abby reflected. “Meeting different students and getting to know them was definitely the highlight of the trip.”
After getting to try out the school cafeterias, Campion students attended Chinese art and music classes in addition to leading discussions in English classrooms. “It was so much fun seeing how excited the kids were to show us their customs and culture in China,” commented Tristan. “They had such big smiles on their faces as they showed us how to play the Guzheng or fold dumplings correctly.”
One of the biggest highlights of the tour was getting to visit a panda sanctuary near Chengdu in the Sichuan Province. “Seeing the panda babies was literally the cutest thing I have ever seen. Seeing them just flop around and cuddle with each other was adorable!” said Tristan.
Students also had the opportunity to visit the unique and majestic Stone Forest in Yunnan Province, Asia’s largest flower market in Kunming, and the ancient and beautiful mountain-town, Lijiang. “One of my most memorable experiences was in Lijiang,” remembered Abby. “We sat down in a store and saw a ukulele, so we started playing it and just jamming out. The owner came out from the back and sat with us, and as we sang some worship songs, she hummed along. It made me realize how awesome music is in bringing people together, even if we don’t speak the same language.”
Perhaps some of the most impactful moments came while worshiping together with members of the Adventist church in Kunming each Sabbath. The pastor shared how the number of churches in the province has been growing rapidly, especially in the rural areas. He brought a group of teenagers, who have dedicated their lives to working for God, to share their incredible musical talents. They sang and played familiar hymns as well as local Christian songs using accordions, the Guzheng (Chinese harp), and the Hulusi (Chinese gourd flute). Campion students also shared praise songs and testimonies. “Although we had a language barrier, we received a great message from their church about how we are from different parts of the world but we both love God and praise Him in similar ways,” explained Amby. “I thought it was a very powerful message and it greatly impacted my life.”
“I couldn't have asked for a better group of students and adults to travel to China with,” reflected Dean Helm, one of the sponsors and coordinators on the trip. “Friendships were made, relationships were developed, and life changing experiences were initiated. Without a doubt, I believe the cultural sharing that both our American students and the Chinese students we interacted with was very rewarding for all. It was fun watching our students’ reactions as we visited old traditional Chinese areas, as well as seeing how they responded to the modern Chinese society. In the future, as God opens doors for the students of Campion Academy, it will be exciting to see how He allows this trip to be a new beginning for future opportunities.”
Jill Harlow, Communication and International Student Program Director