By Marissa Nichol
The Sichuan University Immersion Program provided me with countless experiences that personally affected and changed me. Each experience is equally significant, but one aspect of the trip impacted me the most; Interacting with the people of China every day put my entire life into perspective. Starting with our cultural exchange, i was able to hear from Chinese college students my age about a variety of things, including what they do for fun, what they are interested in, what social media apps they use and more. Throughout the trip I began noticing everyone’s behavior everywhere I went. Walking around campus after class I noticed women doing what looked to be jujitsu in the trees. I danced with a group of women beside the streets of Chengdu to music I haven’t heard before. After climbing down the tiring steps of the Leshan Giant Buddha, I reached the feet of the Buddha to see many people praying. When ordering food at a restaurant, the waiter or waitress helping me often shared a comforting laugh with me about the language barrier. These simple experiences contributed to a personal transformation in a huge way.
After spending 15 days in Chengdu, I interacted with people who lived there enough to know their calm-natured and kind personalities. The students presented themselves as hard-working and dedicated, and everyone I met was so welcoming to us all. The hospitality is something I haven’t experienced anywhere else I have visited. Everything the people of China do is done with or for others, and in a way that makes every little thing peaceful and enjoyable. This has impacted me because it has helped me become more caring and appreciative for the people I have in my life in America. I came home enjoying being able to see my friends and families, just knowing that I have them in my life. I feel that I am now more willing to perform acts of kindness toward the people who mean the most to me, and also to strangers. I think I feel this way now because when I felt hopeless in another country speaking a different language there was always someone there willing to help me, and I want to spread the same feeling I felt from those experiences.