Day 01: Forbidden City and Jingshan Park

Today was our first full MEI day. In the morning, we met on the top floor of the hotel for a wake up workout. Students were assigned workout groups and did yoga or hit the exercise machines or raced each other in the pool. A little after 8am and we were enjoying one of the world’s finest breakfast buffets here at the hotel.

Our first mission was to take the subway to the Forbidden City. The class was divided into small groups to navigate the subway system. Naturally, one group got on the wrong train but, thanks to some quick thinking from Samuel, they remedied the situation. Before we knew it we were walking under the portrait of Mao and entering the Forbidden City.

Chinese tourists took out their cameras to snap photos of this strange traveling school of foreigners. We drew a crowd of curious onlookers as we wrote in our journals. After our celebrity experience we got down to work. The Forbidden City provided a glorious backdrop to our first lesson about capitalism, communism, and the Chinese economic miracle of the last twenty-five years.

Afterward, the students experienced their first open afternoon to grab lunch and explore. We met up in the evening at Jingshan Park for an English activity about presentation skills. Everyone was put on the spot to present a spontaneous speech to the class.  We discussed how difficult it is to perform in front of a group. The class was very committed to making each presenter feel welcome and respected. Athena delivered a shout out to older siblings, praising them for paving the way while Vanessa expressed her vendetta against broccoli.

The sun started to set and we went to a unique Chinese dinner. The food was served raw and in thin slices and we cooked it ourselves in classic hot pot style. By the end of the meal, jetlag was setting in. Fortunately, they’re already Beijing subway veterans, making for a swift return to the hotel. It’s bed time here in Beijing.


Tomorrow is a big day, exploring Art Zone 798 and having a Round Table discussion about the novel Red Azalea.

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