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Reflection on Guangxi Experiential Learning Trip

Written by Micheal - a student from Affiliated High School of Peking University

Drawings by 陆欣瑶 Lu Xinyao, a very talented and brilliant girl who took part in the trip.

\"The only source of knowledge is the experience.\" ~Albert Einstein

\"So, are you going to Guangxi?\", a friend of mine asked me during the short break between one class and the other. I said \"Yes\". \"Why?\", she wondered. I said: \"Because it\'s fun! I want to try the zip lining\". She nodded: \"When I saw the program of the trip, I thought all students who opted for Guangxi Experiential Learning Program are brave warriors\". \"Yeah, I think so too\".

Actually, the reasons why I have applied for this program are three.

The first is strong curiosity: we learned in primary school\'s textbooks that \"桂林山水甲天下 ~ Guilin\'s mountain and water scenery is the best under heaven\" and Yangshuo\'s scenery is the best one in Guilin\'s area. At that time, I was full of imagination for Guilin. So when I saw I had the chance to take part in such experience, I didn\'t hesitate a moment to pick it as a first choice.

The second thing that motivated me is reading the full name of Guangxi province: \"Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region\". I wanted to go explore more about the cultural customs of the ethnic minorities in Guangxi.

Last, but really not least, my heart is not working extremely great, my usual minute heart rate is almost 120/min, which is twice the normal amount of pulses. Therefore I hoped that through this opportunity, I would do more exercise with the three-day hiking, two-day biking, rock climbing, ziplining, abseiling, caving… With this full load of outdoor activities, my body would become fitter indeed.

Oh, and I forgot… making new friends! Sharing these intense days will intensify the bonds we already have, stimulate the birth of new ones, improve the cooperation between each other and give us a memory we will never forget about. These are the reasons why I chose this program.

After a two-hour drive from Guilin airport, our trip started in龙脊古壮寨Longji Ancient Zhuang Village.

With a history of over 400 years, the village is home to 200 households of over 1000 Zhuang people, who well-preserved the architecture of the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Longji (\"Dragon\'s Backbone\") Terraced Rice Fields received their name because the rice terraces resemble a dragon\'s scales, while the summit of the mountain range looks like the backbone of the dragon. Standing on the top of the mountain you can see the dragon\'s backbone twisting off into the distance.

We reached平安 Ping\'an in the late afternoon. At the path side, we found some people cooking bamboo sticks on an open fire. The rice is stuffed inside the hollow core of bamboo along with some meats, vegetables, and spices. The bamboo tube is sealed and cooked on the fire.

This is a popular traditional meal for the local people, it\'s called \"bamboo steamed rice\" and it tastes delicious. In the evening, we had the chance to prepare it ourselves for dinner! So you could see boys and girls dedicatedly filling their personalized bamboo sticks…

A sweet and colorful Zhuang lady showed us the procedure. We took advantage of the waiting time for getting them ready on the fire and made a lot of 粽子 Zongzi ~ Sticky rice dumplings for our next day\'s lunch, meanwhile! Making this food let me feel more autonomous, this is one of the main educational purposes aimed by Terratribes\' Experiential Learning.

After dinner, the Zhuang minority\'s ladies of the village gathered in a school courtyard and performed their songs and dances around a fire. They were completely adorned with masks, following the rhythm of ancestral drums, to bamboo dances - yet another addition to the list of the hundreds of Chinese ways to use the bamboo plant! I am sure that all the spirits previously intentioned to bring us bad luck, immediately left the village after that dancing was completed.

On the next morning, we were surrounded by a slight enchanting fog as we left the village and followed the spiral paths weaving through the rice paddies.

It was fun because, even if we (the boys of the group, I mean) are not used to talk so much to each other during school time, we soon got much closer there, providing help to the others at every difficult step, and this was just what I was really hoping for: to develop my social skills and expand my friend-zone!

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