I want to take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Longyun and we’ll be spending four weeks together in China this summer. First off, I’m a native of Kunming and majored in physical education at Yunnan Normal University. Although I’ve lived almost all my life in Kunming, my great passion is travel and I lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand for a year while teaching Chinese and Gongfu. The reason I love traveling so much is that it allows me to meet new people and learn about their cultures, customs, languages, religions, and of course food.
One thing you should know about me is that I’m crazy about food. Crazy. Really crazy. I can’t wait to take you guys to eat Dai cuisine (Yunnan’s Xishuangbanna Prefecture), rubing (ethnic Bai goat cheese), tangculiji (Guangdong sweet and sour pork), boluofan (pineapple sticky rice), and tons of other delicious dishes. If you’re feeling adventurous, I can take you to eat/gnaw on some eat chicken feet like a real local.
I do have some other interests, though. I started practicing gongfu—mainly taiji—when I was six years old, and I’ve been teaching it for more then ten years. I still spend quite a bit of my free time training and perfecting my skills at martial arts. It allows me to find balance, not only physically, but also mentally and spiritually. In many ways, it’s a metaphor for life. I would be elated to teach those of you who are interested, and I can take you to meet local students who are currently studying taiji.
Oftentimes the most profound and memorable experiences of a Dragons course are home-stays. Many of you will have brothers and sisters who will show you around Kunming and want to learn about your lives. I have no doubt that you’ll have some funny tales to tell when you get back home and plenty of new adventures to relate, but I’m confident that your time living with your home-stay families will be among the most unforgettable and positive experiences all summer. During the weekends you may even get to travel with them to some of Kunming’s famous locations like the Western Hills, Golden Temple, Bamboo Temple and Lake Dian.
The most central component of your program is of course Mandarin. Please don’t worry or stress yourselves out about your current language levels. No matter whether you’re unable to utter an intelligible word in Chinese or you’ve been studying since you were in the crib, we have a team of amazing language instructors ready to help you all improve dramatically. They all have experience teaching foreigners and are prepared to tailor lessons to your various levels of proficiency.
There is one more thing I’d like to leave you all thinking about. A Dragons program isn’t simply about language, travel, culture, or adventure. It’s about gaining life experience and delving into yourselves. It’s about learning from your mistakes, finding yourself when you get lost, and realizing that sometimes wisdom is a product of discovering what you don’t already know. And perhaps it’s not knowing at all, but rather remaining open to the world and willing to explore and accept its mysteries.
I can’t wait to meet you all in LA in six weeks. Please know that I’m thinking about you and how to make this summer a dream come true.