A journey of a thousand miles starts with one single step. Everyone in his/her life time has a dream of travelling the world at least once. Since my childhood I have dreamt of visiting every corner of the globe which is kind of a paradox as the world itself is round. The Global Immersion Programme (GIP) to China did not fulfil my entire dream but helped me cover a bit of it.
CHINA a place where most people dream of visiting was the destination I went with seven other students and two teachers from SAI International School. As the Vice President of the Going Global Junior Club it has been my ambition to travel and pioneer a GIP of the school. When the opportunity to go to China came I was the first to sign up. Over the years I have witnesses club members visiting Singapore, UK and my own sister forge the way as a participant in the first GIP to the United States of America in April 2015.
Our journey started on May 28, 2017. A few tears slipped from my eyes as we left our parents and waved goodbye at the Biju Patnaik International Airport. The realisation of leaving our parents became a plunt reality. Going somewhere without our family makes us realise the importance of them in our lives but Jessica ma’am was the one who did not even let us feel that we are away from our dear parents and looked after us as if we were her own children. We really cherished minute of our lives in that 11 days which is ingrained as a great memory deep in our hearts forever.
On the morning of May 28 we left Bhubaneswar and reached Kolkata and went to the famous City Centre Mall 2 and spent nearly 6-7 hrs there. We shopped for some time in the mall and then played UNO in the Cafe Coffee Day. Soon we left for dinner at the residence of Mr. Ma, Consul General of the Peoples Republic of China in Kolkata. He had invited us to dine with him before our incredible journey started. As we sat around his enormous dining table he told of the history between China and India, how the two cultures are intertwined in trade and cultural heritage for hundreds of years. We learned how to use chop sticks, he showed us useful tricks on how to hold them properly and pick up food. After dinner and many goodbyes we headed for the airport and checked into our overnight flight.
We reached Kunming early in the morning and were very delighted to see the scenic beauty of the hills, the surroundings, the railways, everything around us looked so beautiful that we did not we did not even want to blink encase we were to miss something. Our first experience was at the Yunnan Nationalities Village which is located in the southwest suburb of Kunming City, Yunnan Province. As a window displaying the various cultures and customs of 25 minorities in Yunnan, it has been honoured the “Class AAAA (highest rank) Scenic Spot” of China. We had a good look at traditional ethnic-featured buildings and colourful costumes showing off the different minorities of China. We even had the opportunity to dress up in different ethnic costumes of the Yi and Ma people. The next day was an incredible visit to the Stone Forest, a UNESCO world heritage site that lies about 80 miles to the southeast of Kunming. Our final day in Kunming was spent at the Kunming No.8 High School where we met many students and learnt a few Chinese words like Xai Xai (shi shi) means “thank you” in Chinese. We learnt some Chinese calligraphy including how to write our names by a famous local calligrapher and arts Mr. Wang. We also played soccer with our hosts they taugh us some some tactics to play the game of soccer. Again with teary eyes we were left Kunming and also our so lovely tour guide Salina.
Our next destination was one of the oldest cities in China, Fuzhou. We started off with a visit to Fuzhou Foreign Languages High School and signed a Memorandum of Understanding between SAI International School and the Fuzhou Foreign Languages School. We also gave a presentation on Indian culture covering seven states of India. I represented Panjab. The following day was a trip to “Three Lanes and Seven Alleys”, one of China’s oldest national heritage sites located in the heart of Fuzhou City. This national treasure is around 2,200 years old and home to hundreds of well known historical Chinese historical figures and heroes. It is a famous place for shopping. Nana our Fuzhou tour guide was like our sister. She was really upset when we left her and boarded our flight to our final destination Beijing. In Beijing we visited “Tiananmen Square” which has a history that had a great impact in each and every Chinese person. Then we went to the “Forbidden City” home to 26 Imperial families and Emperors of both the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The city was a humungous residence for the Emperor and his family no one was allowed in the city besides the royal family and their caretakers for centuries, until the 1950s. That is where the name “Forbidden City” was derived from. The city is a rectangle, with 961 metres from north to south and 753 metres from east to west. There are 9,999 rooms according to legend.
The next day we went to the Great Wall of China which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Its scenic beauty was really beyond our imagination and it was a breathless journey climbing the wall to the fourth tower on the north side. After the great wall we headed to the the Summer Palace which had nearly 14,000 paintings along the longest corridor in the world. .
Our last Day in China was spent travelling from Beijing to Kunming, then to Kolkata and then finally to our own city of Bhubaneswar. I was really delighted to see my parents but at the same time very sad that now we would separate and return back to our daily routine. It is really very easy to say that finally we reached hone after so many days but this trip is unforgettable. It will remain etched in our memory for life until the day we die. I think everyone should take such a trip it really helps us to improve ourselves in many ways. During this trip I faced a few challenges and was able to overcome them. I performed in front of students in China and became more confident in myself. I got to try new things including food and even a new language. This was my first trip without my parents and it was a great opportunity to grown-up and become more independent. I would like to thank Jessica Ma’am for everything she did for us. Sarat Sir also helped us enjoy the trip. This trip would not have been as extraordinary without each team member with me. Lastly I would like to thank Dr. BK Sahoo, our beloved Chairman Sir for giving us such a great opportunity to go overseas and learn so many things. This trip allowed us to grow as a more globally polished person. Without his foresight trip like these would not be possible. Participating in the Global Immersion Programme in the school has been a great benefit to me and all who participate. I am fortunate that this programme is offered at SAI International School. I cannot wait for my next adventure. I would like to leave you with a quote from the famous Chinese Guru, Confucius. It has become my travel motto.
“Wúlùn nǐ zǒu dào nǎlǐ, quánxīnquányì dì qù”
“Wherever you go, go with all your heart”