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Transference at the Great Wall

Hello Language 4B Friends and Family!

I’m Benjy Renton — an alum of the Language 6-Week program with Dragons in 2015 and currently living and working in Beijing this summer.

I had the opportunity to meet this wonderful group yesterday as they’ve begun settling into their transference spot near the Gubeikou section of the Great Wall. After a great home-cooked meal, we all shared our experiences and I gave a short talk titled “Seven Lessons for China Travelers.” In it, I shared my experiences post-Dragons in China and gave some advice on how students can apply their experiences back home or potentially in China on a future trip. We also had the opportunity to go around and discuss how our perceptions of China have been changed. While some commented on the Westernization of China and the rise of Western brands, others noted that a city like Kunming does not have many of the Western brands that a city like Beijing would have. Another noted that the country was quite different from what their parents told them 20 years ago!

Here were my seven lessons:

  1. Have confidence. Dragons gives you the confidence to travel anywhere in China. Use it.
  2. Embrace discomfort. You’ve been in some situations on your course that have challenged you. Savor those moments.
  3. Expect the unexpected and be open to surprises. You never know what will happen each day in China.
  4. Be informed and have an open mind. China is changing rapidly and the best way to keep up is to stay informed on its rise.
  5. Study Chinese. It will open doors and help you make connections.
  6. Reject the single story of China. We talked a little bit about the TED talk “The Danger of a Single Story” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. There is so much more to China than a single photo of the Forbidden City. Take some time to explore the borderlands and the interior of the country.
  7. Find your bamboo. Whether it’s something you’ve discovered during your ISP or something you’ve seen on the road, find something that excites you in China and pursue it.

It was a great group to spend the evening with and I wish them all the best through their transference and their journey home!