Time flies, doesn’t it? It seems like yesterday we were all in Shaxi together. I can still see in my head line upon line of the beautiful roses we picked and the vibrant, luminous green of the rice fields on the walk to the farm. All the the laughter we shared learning Bai dancing, making mud bricks and eating weird food together still rings in my head. You’re probably back at school but we wanted you to know that here in Yunnan we are still thinking of you and the impact we made together this summer.
Your time here really did make an impact. The temple restoration is much further forward thanks to you and the 482 mud bricks you made whilst in Shaxi, motivated by our enthusiastic Leader of the Day that day, Laura and her assistant Izzy. On completion it will be enjoyed by local people, young and old alike; a place where they can meet and connect with one another. The roses and rosemary you picked at ShaSha organic farm will now have been transformed into fragrant sprays or essential oils ready for sale, to help further the important work at the farm. The enzymes you created together from plums will be breaking down, smelling glorious, ready to be used as natural fertiliser and the compost will already have been strewn, helping the produce to grow naturally and in a sustainable way. Cody proved to be such a worthy worker that day as Leader of the Day, wheeling barrows of dried leaves and labouring to get the compost made.
Something none of us will forget in a hurry either is those ‘numb’ berries! Oscar kept us all entertained by daring to lick so many of them, and Brezlan proved to be the absolute champion at picking them. And while we’re on the subject of food, I’m sure we can all remember Brayden’s meal worm ‘burrito’ and Natasha and Tristen taking on the chicken feet at the food challenge. The duck neck proved to be a difficult one to guess, but Alexis got it in the end! A final food memory worth sharing is the day of the dumplings and how we all overcame the challenging task of making them, before Jonathan and Daniel conquered the eating of them (37.5 each) with Ryan and Jonah tying in second place with 37 each. Food was such a huge part of the China trip and always a hot topic of conversation.
We couldn’t write a letter to you guys without mentioning the Great Wall of China! What a bonding experience that was. The rain did not dampen our spirits, and in fact, it probably made the whole experience more spectacular due to the fact we were the last ones on the wall before they closed it for the afternoon. I was very proud of CJ and Jordan that day for overcoming their fears of steep steps and courageously making the journey with us, both up and down. What legends!
Now, this letter wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t talk about Uncle Lu, fount of all knowledge, our generous host in Shaxi and Connect 5 Grandmaster! Hats off to Beck who won the Connect 5 tournament, winning the ‘Pig of Destiny’ and going on to face Uncle Lu in the Grandmaster challenge. Speaking of Uncle Lu, do you recall how he threw us a fabulous farewell party before leaving Shaxi? We were treated to several traditional Bai dances by the dance troupe, and we had a beautiful flowing feminine dance by our very own Gaia, which impressed the entire audience. What a way to round off our stay!
As this is a letter from the GLA China Staff, we personally can’t forget the sentiment that was put into making our thank you cards. Ellie proved her leadership skills by carefully organising ,well in advance, cards for all GLA and support staff. Nandini was her partner in crime, sketching beautiful images to compliment the written words. We were so impressed and felt so appreciated!
I think you will all agree there was never a dull moment on this program! Filled with mud, somewhat scary bugs, strange things to eat, giggles, shared life stories, dreams, and of course friendship. We want to thank you wholeheartedly for making the effort to be open to new things, for showing leadership in accepting the people around you for who they are, for giving service to the community and for bringing so much of your personalities into the trip to give it a most unique flavour. GLA China Session 2 2018 – we won’t forget our time shared here together and the imprint it left on us all.
Zai Jain! Very best wishes,
GLA China Team 2018