July 5 – 23, 2006

Shanghai, Henan Province, and Beijing, China

“‘A picture paints a thousand words’ and you are doing an awesome job creating newsletters! As parents who have sent their daughter on a trip around the world, my husband and I enjoy seeing them more than you could ever know. Thank you for your hard work.” –Parent of 2006 Participant

Challenge:TOMORROW Youth Program was a 19-day adventure for 30 students from New York, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, and California, including students from the White River Apache and Tohono O’odham Reservations. These 30 students traveled to China in July to meet and work with their Chinese peers to build cultural understanding, learn language, and exchange information about their families, schools, communities, and the world.

Each student from the United States completed a four-week study program prior to their travel. To learn about the places and people they would see during their program, they studied Mandarin, leadership, money management, and Chinese history and culture. Students from the U.S. and China lived together in dorms during the week’s programs. Accompanying the group were 14 counselors from the United States.

The U.S. group flew from their orientation in Los Angeles to Shanghai for an overnight and city tour, then on to Zhengzhou for a week on Sias University campus with 90 Chinese middle school students. The week was heavily scheduled with curriculum from “Destination Imagination” on creativity and problem solving, as well as language and cultural activities, including music, dancing, Peking Opera face painting, and games. Students discussed leadership and the issues they would like to change in their own communities, country, and the world.

A week later they flew to Beijing and worked together with 30 students from Yuzhong Middle School. They continued their language and cultural training and also spent a day at the Museum of Science and Technology, had dinner in students’ homes, and visited the major historical and cultural sites in Beijing, including the Great Wall, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven and Forbidden City. They attended a flag rising in Tiananmen Square one morning, had a briefing at the American Embassy, and participated in the Opening Ceremony where Ambassador Li Daoyu spoke to the students.

The students collectively wrote letters to Presidents Bush and Hu after seeing their photos at the Summit in St. Petersburg.

We continue to follow the students through e-mails, surveys, and on-site visits to determine the learning and application of this experience. Our intention is to expand the pre-learning and prepare for the events of the program to enable students to increase the benefit they gain from participating in the Challenge: TOMORROW Youth Program.

So far, results have been rewarding, not only in what the students learned about China, but in what they learned about their own culture and diversity.

Challenge: TOMORROW 2006 Daily News