Cristian & Karina Diaz Immerse Themselves in Chinese Culture Over Spring Break
Posted on 05/16/2019
Siblings Cristian Diaz '20 and Karina Diaz '21 spent this year's spring break far from home, on the other side of the world in fact, as part of a delegation of high school students that visited 20 Chinese schools over 10 days. They were chosen for this program after an application process that included an essay-writing component.

The journey in China took them from Beijing to Shanghai covering almost 1,000 miles of territory and visiting 20 schools where they were warmly received with tours, ceremonies, hands-on activities, and cultural exchanges. The trip also included a fair bit of sightseeing of world-famous sites such as the Great Wall of China, West Lake, and the Forbidden City. The highlight for them was simply the reception that they received when they visited each school, emphasizing how excited everyone was to meet Americans. "We were like rockstars," Cristian commented.

The experience was an academic one at its heart and the Diazes discovered some of the vast cultural differences that exist between American and Chinese lifestyles, especially with respect to adolescences and the high school experience. "They go to school a lot," said Karina, pointing out that some of the students were in class for as much as 10 hours per day, with many of the schools that they visited being boarding schools during the week and the students returning home on weekends. Karina added that Chinese schools are heavily focused on academics with a much smaller emphasis on sports and extracurricular activities. She said that seeing this made her realize "just how many opportunities we have here in American schools."

Cristian, when reflecting on how the experience impacted him, said, "It was fascinating to see how different the two cultures were. We do things one way and they do it another but both are interesting in their own ways."

Overall, they were grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime experience that opened their eyes to some of the wonders of the East.

Diazes Delegation to China