Reflecting on the past three weeks...
As soon as I read the email about an embedded Biology course with a cancer topic and included a trip to China, I knew I wanted to go. Receiving the email from Dr. Lai informing me of my acceptance to this course was a great day. The course proved to be a very interesting one, tackling a topic that not only had personal significance but one that has been devastating to humans the world over. As Dr. Lai has said several times throughout this course; we could be the researchers who lend a hand in developing a promising treatment to ending this disease – a very exciting and reachable prospect.
After a long 16 hour airplane ride, arriving in Beijing was exciting, exhausting, and overwhelming at times. The learning began right away as all our meals included eating with chopsticks, which for me was a work in long progress. Communicating with the locals using the few Chinese words we knew and learning that counting on your fingers is done differently in China. There were plenty of curious locals who loved coming up and talking to us and get their picture taken with us. We got to experience the fun haggling in markets and going to karaoke, underground malls and the sometimes nerve wrecking driving, traffic, use of bikes and sheer number of people. We were a world away from quaint Happy Valley. Visiting the Olympic Stadium, walking around the Summer Palace, and climbing the steep Great Wall were all mesmerizing experiences. To have visited areas where so much history took place was truly moving. Having class with PKU students made the trip so much more educational as we got to experience their day to day life first hand. Everyone was very willing to explain things to us, help us during meals and coming along during weekend trips. The very generous hospitality of everyone at PKU as well as the local Chinese people made us feel very welcome.
Many thanks to Dr. Lai, PKU students and staff, and PSU for making such a successful trip a reality for all of us.