BHS juniors get immersed in Chinese culture


Archive Photo

Bearden junior Lizzy Noon joined Sydney Gabrielson on a trip to China this summer.

Allie Gruszkiewicz, Staff Writer

Imagine a typical late-night trip to Sam’s Club. All you want is some pretzels and peanut butter, but you don’t have your card and this makes paying difficult. Now throw in the fact that nobody around you speaks English, and things become more interesting.

Juniors Lizzy Noon and Sydney Gabrielson enjoyed this experience during their two-week trip to China this summer through the Chinese Bridge Summer Camp.

The Chinese Bridge Summer Camp is run by the Confucius Institute in China, which has a satellite at the University of Memphis. The purpose of the program, sponsored by the Chinese government, is to expose American students to Chinese culture and improve understanding and relationships between the countries.

“Overall, it was just a really great experience,” Noon said. “I suggest teenagers in Tennessee going.”

Noon and Gabrielson spent some of their trip in Beijing and the majority in Huangzhou. Being in a culture so far from home, they had many unique and interesting experiences.

In Huangzhou, they performed an opera to an audience of 400. As the tallest participant, Gabrielson was chosen for the male lead character.

Another important aspect of any culture is the food. Most of their food consisted of rice, but with some interesting twists.

“The food was very different from Americanized Chinese food,” Gabrielson said. “The flavors were so different that it kind of put you in culture shock.”

They also experienced what it is like to be a minority in a foreign country. Noon and Gabrielson were stopped in some places by locals who wanted pictures because they had never seen Americans.

Other activities they took part in abroad included a trip to the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and a boat ride by the Yu Causeway.

As for the trip to Sam’s, some gestures got them over the difficult language barrier as they asked a woman for help in payment.

Back at home, Noon said that she wants to make sure other students know about this program so that they, too, have the chance to take a trip to China.

“My main goal is to get the information out about it and give everybody the same opportunity,” Noon said.

Complete with chocolate that turned out to be red beans, a total lack of cheese, and bathrooms that could only be described as “squats,” Noon said that their trip to China was certainly life-changing. Gabrielson said that after her first time abroad, she would definitely go back again.

“I thought it was an amazing experience,” Gabrielson said. “I would love to go back to China.”