Finals are over. Yahoo!!! The students endured this test of will and ability to survive on little sleep and lots of coffee, and all prevailed. So the next logical step is a celebration, and celebrate we did. The first part of our celebration was a picture in front of the Jia with the entire group. This picture will live on through history as a record of all who shared in this wonderful experience overseas. Then we had a celebration meeting to congratulate the students and thank the staff/faculty with speeches, games, gifts, and some killer "slam poetry" (provided by The Erbes). Finally, it was off to the Shangri-La Hotel for a fabulous buffet dinner. It was a great completion to a great semester.
Only two more days of finals and the students are stressed! To lift their spirits we hosted a dessert night. On the menu: banana bread, mango sticky rice, cold oats topped with apple, cookies, and a crepe bar with all sorts of sweet toppings and fillings. The students ate almost all of it! Please pray for our students as they make this final push to the end of their semester.
Temperatures here in Shanghai have been consistently in the 50's and 60's over the last month. But this week it has gotten colder and colder. It is Saturday and most of the students are studying hard for their final exams, but the snow falling outside was too much to keep them inside. Perfect time for a study break!
Every Tuesday night after our group dinner, nine of our very dedicated students travel to the Body & Soul Yoga gym (over a mile from the Jia) to learn the art of Kung Fu. Bodies were stretched into less than comfortable positions. Muscles were strained from balancing while holding unnatural stances. Front kicks, side kicks and spinning jump kicks were performed until what seemed impossible became possible. We are so proud of these students and their physical accomplishments in this class. And thanks to a great Kung Fu master 屠建峰 for teaching us with patience and understanding. What a great way to engage in a new culture.
No travel abroad program can be complete without a pajama party. Since Christmas is right around the corner it seemed an appropriate time to combine pa"jia"mas and Christmas in one ultimate party. The night started with decorating sugar cookies and concluded with a White Elephant gift exchange. These are the pictures I could get my hands on.
So the girls of the Jia had their brunch last week. This weekend it was all about the boys. Did they go for pretty coffee drinks, delicate flowers, ornate napkins, and an elegant food selection? No way. Dudes do dude stuff, so off to Cages. This place offered big screen TVs (showing the Big 10 conference football championship), basketball games, batting cages, pool, Foosball, pinball machines, and even a dodge ball court! Add burgers & fries, and the atmosphere was just right for dude bonding. Thanks to all the Bros that attended this more than epic event. #brosrulegirlsdrool
On Thursday, a group from the Jia journeyed down to Downtown Disney (Disneyland) to see the Mandarin production of Beauty and the Beast at the Walt Disney Grand Theater. Right after classes we had a quick bite to eat (pizza) and headed to the metro station for a 45 min ride to Disneyland. Many of the male and female students got dressed up for this classy night out. It was fantastic. The music and costumes were amazing and the little boy that played "Chip" - just too cute. Thanks to the student life committee (with special thanks to Pamela) for setting up such a wonderful cultural event.
Three nights out of the week we have group dinners where all the students meet at a local restaurant for a meal together. Trying to find good food places that are not to far from the Jia and that accommodate such a large group can be difficult at times. Enter "Staff Dinner". On this night, students sign up to have dinner in a more intimate setting with a single staff member - Charlie, Gigi, Mona, and William. For our night we were privileged to have dinner with William. We started with a peach jello type drink with a core of taro root - delicious. Every other dish exceeded the first in taste and quality. Add to that great company, conversation and a coffee nightcap, and you end up with a perfect evening. William, thanks so much for your hospitality and friendship.
It was a busy last week at the Jia. Thanksgiving on Thursday. Talent Show on Friday. Service Day on Saturday. And we wrapped everything up with a Girls' Brunch on Sunday. Stella put together a special morning for all the girls here at the Jia including a quiz which had fun facts about each girl. There was coffee, food, roses, gifts, and lots of sentiment and emotion.
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the student service committee setup a Service Day for the Jia (thanks Amiyah for the planning and Madison for the snacks). Our project was to pick up trash at the beach. So at noon on Saturday, we boarded a bus for a 1.5 hour drive to the coastline south of Shanghai. We met up with about 150 Chinese university students and walked to the "beach" - no sand or umbrellas here. The area was a shoreline and a water-break which was packed with 50% bamboo and 50% trash. We represented Pepperdine well by taking a bluetooth speaker and playing Taylor Swift and other popular American artists for the crowd of workers while we all picked up trash. Everyone loved it. Some of the Chinese students even sang along with our students. The work effort lasted a few hours, then we headed back to the Jia. Thanks to the 6 students who volunteered their precious Saturday free time. Feels good to give back to the community where we live and work.