Feels Like Home

By Zhe Ma

Ahh, Home
Let me come Home
Home is wherever I’m with you…

It’s been more than a week since I’ve left Zhuhai, and I’ve been meaning to write a new blog post. I first decided on the title, but when it came time to put finger to keyboard (?) I was lost. My thoughts about the last two months seemed to recede into a dark place in my mind and it refused to let go of its safety and comfort.

So, I was browsing Hypem today and stumbled upon a song by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros called Home. When I started listening to the song, I started crying. That song led me to write this blog post. Just hit play, it’ll go great with the post, trust me.

I guess there are a lot of emotions that have come out of this experience. I think the best way for me to sum it up would be to say that ol’ Richard Broadhead was right. This experience, Duke Engage, is not really about you saving the community that you are serving in, but it is about changing yourself, your views, and your way of thinking.

I am Chinese, so I always got a head start on understanding Western-Eastern differences. Yet, on this trip it became ridiculously clear to me how lucky I was to be able to experience both sides. Being in America all this time, I’ve discovered without fail that certain preconceptions of Eastern culture are just plain wrong. Interestingly, but in the end expected, Easterners also have wrong and sometimes poor preconceptions of Western culture. It really saddens me that we can live in the Golden Age of information and still sometimes be so poorly educated about other individuals of our own species.

Yet, I feel that the newer generation will be different. I certainly hope I made a good impression on the kids. I hope that as a group, we were able to show them what kind of people we were and what we stood for. I sincerely hope that their ideas about education, especially learning English, have changed. That education is not all about memorizing content, but it is about learning skills for you to use in the future so when the opportunity arises, you will be able to succeed. They certainly have rubbed off on me too! Nowadays, I’m always using QQ to chat it up and I have started speaking Chinese to my parents again, first time since I was six. Below is a picture of some of my favorite people. I can’t wait to see these guys again because I know they will all be very successful in the future.

 Photo Cred: Rebecca Pham

So, to the song business…

I got emotional because I finally realized why Zhuhai had such an impact on me. By the end of two months, I got used to the same bed, the same office, and the same people that I hung out with every day. In my mind, Zhuhai was Home. I distinctly remember the night our group was coming back from Hong Kong. As I was walking Home alone in the dark, I had stopped. At that moment, I had the nagging feeling of unrest like I had been traveling for a long time and that I really, really wanted to be Home. No, not the one in Parkland, FL or Durham, NC, but the one in Zhuhai. When I got Home, I dropped my bags and a sense of relief washed over me.

Last week I came home and left Home at the same time. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the people and places from this trip: Rebecca, Cedric, Antares, Abby, Jiwon, Scott, De’Shaun, Wenjia, Jeremy, Shariza, Jonathan, Principal Lee, KGB, Livia, Assistant Principal Tina, Jimmy with glasses, Smiling Jimmy, Oscar (so cute!), PE Teachers, Crissy, Crissy’s friends, our third floor office, the dance room, the patio area across from the dance room, Lu Lu, Baby, Leo, Ronny, Kingston, Jacky, Tina, all the Hip Hop Girls and Boys, my Baseball boys, my Photography boys, Mary and Lanche (as a couple), Eric (Lanche’s friend), Melody, Sally, Myrtle, John, Vincent, Carmen, Lebron, Panda, Kong Jia Ming, Rousala, Zorro, all my amazing students, all the No. 9 students that I got to interact with every day, all the Jinan students (yes even Joyce), Ben, Gongbei, Shui Wan Jie, government sponsored KTV, The Music Box, Hong Kong (maybe next summer!?), Macau, Beijing, Guangzhou, Xi’an, my wonderful host family, all the other incredible host families, and last but not least Eric P. Zhou and Hsiao-Mei Ku for making every minute of the last two months just unbelievable. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

This will be the last blog post that I write and I think it has been the most meaningful one to me. If someone made a montage of my life, Zhuhai would make the top 3. I plan to continue being active in service and I know I will make it back to the Zhuhai area someday.

Until then, I’m stuck somewhere in limbo thinking about that place I once called Home.


Final Thoughts

By Rebecca Pham

My last two weeks in Zhuhai flew by in one huge blur. With the stress of the final performance building in the second to last week, it felt like there was zero down time/chances to breathe. Even so, I have found that I thrive best when I am busy and life is chaotic – it pushes me and drives me to do more. On the downside, however, I believe I stayed at No.  9 Middle School from 8am to 8pm those days and found myself having to miss dinner with my host families or returning home after they had all fallen asleep.

As head of the final performance committee, production preparation consumed my life (even during my free weekend in Hong Kong, I found myself working on details for the show) from dealing with last minute additions to the performance, continually changing program order and working with De’Shaun to reformat the narrative scripts in between acts, obtaining costumes and makeup, and of course, preparing all three sets of my dancers (my hip hop girls, my 9th grade breakers, and the teachers). When dress rehearsal arrived, I felt less prepared than ever. We were not able to run the whole show as many acts were missing/equipment for video & slideshows were not yet available. The kids were uncontrollable and I knew we had to figure out a way to contain them during the show.  The MC skits between acts were not running smoothly – actors were missing, people missed their lines, and students became frustrated with each other. We discovered issues with the CD player that made it difficult to search through a CD/about 3 CDs were burned before the order of the music was finally correct. That night, after running a mile, I stayed in the office until well past midnight in order to burn each music track to an individual CD. I also designated certain classrooms surrounding the outdoor stage for certain acts and labeled each room to organize students for the day of the show.

When the day of the show came, there was no rest that morning up until the start of the show. We went makeup-shopping, we experimented with makeup (funny story…Ji Won was testing makeup for her Chacha girls on me, and the girls wanted to observe – they were in awe of the cosmetic beauty world and exclamations of wonder were frequently heard; one student, female mind you, even declared that I was so beautiful she wanted to kiss me), we struggled with costumes (especially Ji Won – her dancers’ costumes did not arrive until around 2pm; we discovered that none of the black male pants fit her tiny-waisted students as they immediately fell to their knees, many of the red dresses were too loose as well, girls felt very unconscious about the form fitting nature and short length of the dresses as they had never before worn such garments – Ji Won grew nervous that they wouldn’t dance in them; at the end of the day, however, after obtaining many safety pins, the costume issues were resolved and the girls grew a bit more comfortable about the “scandalous” nature of the outfits), the 5pm dress rehearsal for all audio and visual equipment never happened (during the show, several videos would not work and we had no way of discovering this because equipment was unavailable earlier), we never knew the entire length of the show because we lacked a full run through (towards the end of the show, we had to cut the last MC act because the show was getting too long), putting on makeup for my hip hop girls took much longer than expected (about 3 hours for 40 girls…luckily an older student, Aileen, came to help me halfway through), and during the show, my method of confining the students to classrooms completely failed as they were loud and rambunctious – they all wanted to go outside and watch the show, and they acted like they were in an episode of Jailbreak when we put them inside.

Despite the many struggles, the final product was more than I could possibly have ever dreamed.  All the students did an excellent job. I could not have been prouder of the weeks and hours of hard work culminating into this final show of extreme brilliance. By the end of the performance, I was on stage, sobbing nonstop and clinging to all of my dancers, beaming with pride and extremely depressed that the performance had ended. Hsiao-Mei even has embarrassing footage of my wailing – I sound like a dying cat; to make things worse, a news crew decided they wanted to interview me in the midst of my bawling. Luckily, I still had another week at No. 9 and preparations for summer camp were able to quell my tears and temporarily hold the sadness of my imminent departure at bay.

The four days of summer camp were filled with games of ninja, dodge ball, capture the flag, screaming and laughing children running around, several scrapes/bruises/falls, blood and sweat, movies, amusing youtube videos, popsicles, and an epic water balloon fight (even the cafeteria workers happily joined and program director & assistant were both soaked to the bone). As the days continued to fly by, my heart began to sink with the knowledge that my 8 weeks was quickly coming to an end. With each gift from a student (free bubble tea from Drinking Express, a bracelet, hand-painted/hand-made pottery items, and cute cards filled with broken English and love), I found myself being tied closer and closer to Zhuhai.

Post Water Balloon Fight


I spent the last few nights with my students and family – shopping in the underground mall, getting lost in Vanguard with Abby in search of pancake mix (I ended up using cake mix and my host family loved it), going to my last KTVs, hosting a BBQ for 50+ kids at Seaside Park. I found myself tearing up at random moments and struggling to keep up a cheery demeanor with the kids. On my second to last night, I walked home from McDonalds with my host sister. Walking home after McDonalds was one of the most bittersweet experiences during this trip; Melody confessed to me that she had cried herself to sleep the day before. She also told me that at the start of this program, her teachers warned them that everyone cries on the last day. Melody found this statement very hard to believe, but she now completely understood. She also told me she was unsure if she would host another student next summer because she didn’t want to cry again.

On my last night, I gave gifts to my family –  a photo frame for the aunt and uncle with family pictures we’d taken in the home and at Seaside Park, first words flash cards for little Vivian, and a bracelet & letter for Melody. She started sobbing immediately when I gave it to her. Afterwards, my host aunt took us to the nearby beauty salon and we had our hair professionally washed (most relaxing experience ever!). We took photos around the house and then watched videos from the final performance. I stayed up late that night packing and repacking – my family and students had given me so much food/gifts that I had to buy an entire new luggage bag, but I was still struggling to figure out how to take everything back to America.

I awoke Thursday morning with a lump in my throat. Walking into the kitchen, I found my grandmother who attacked me with hugs and affectionate Cantonese phrases that I still could not understand. Yet, I knew she was expressing her love for me and how much she would miss me. I went to morning tea with Melody, Shariza, and Shariza’s host sister Sally. Afterwards, I borrowed Shariza’s scale and discovered that my luggage was 3 kilos overweight and so, again repacked.

Finally, it was time to head over to the school and load the bus to Guangzhou. Melody handed me a three page letter (in which she told me that she’d never cried with a person before and then she quoted the lyrics of Avril Lavigne’s When You’re Gone) and a box of origami stars (if you fold 100, then you bring luck to the recipient). Arriving at the middle school, I was met by a sea of students. A precious girl, Lucy, approached me and asked me to close my eyes. She proceeded to put earrings on me, and I burst into tears that could not stop for an hour. I held my students and my aunt and uncle. It was the hardest goodbye I have ever given. Knowing that I would most likely never see these beautiful people again was heartbreaking. Luckily for me, I am returning to China at the end of this month. I will probably have very little time to see any of my students the one day I am in Zhuhai, but I am going to try my hardest.

The bus driver honked for a full ten minutes before we all were able to pry ourselves from the kids and get on the bus. Fast forward about 20 hours and I found myself at home, lonely, dejected, and feeling a largely vacant and empty. I knew I’d left a part of me in a place on the other side of the globe. I used my laptop for solace and found myself spending hours on QQ and skype to communicate with my students. My host sister was still crying as I skyped her a day later (and apparently after our departure, all the students went to KFC & McDonalds to cry together).

Yet although, I have left China and a huge part of me remains in Zhuhai, I have realized that despite my sadness, there are so many things I am able to keep with me. On a surface level, I find myself still saying “Oh my lady gaga” and “Ai Yah” when I am frustrated. I find myself confused when I enter my bathroom and realize that the toilet is not a hole in the ground. I find myself making unnecessary noises to fill the eerie silences in my home and for the first time realize how busy, vibrant, and alive Zhuhai is whereas American cities seem constantly to be asleep.

On a deeper level, I carry with me the memories and bonds I have forged with these people. I know that in the future, this is a summer I can never forget. When people ask me about DukeEngage, I can truly say that it has changed me and my life. I was able to create relationships in a foreign place, I am able to understand and communicate with individuals when we do not even share a language – our method of speaking transcends language and I can understand them better than I can many people who do speak English. I understand the value of patience and I understand the importance of flexibility, I know what it means to be a leader, and I know how to be a better teacher, mentor, and friend. I have replaced stereotypes with real and concrete knowledge and experiences. And most importantly, I have realized how wonderful and necessary it is to possess passion in all that you do.

I came to China thinking I would teach English and dance. Which I did. Yet, I did so much more. My students do not have perfect English now, and in my eyes, that does not mean I have failed. I have succeeded in so many ways – the majority of which are intangible and immeasurable. I believe that the Zhuhai students are instilled with desire, drive, motivation, and confidence now. We teach the value of happiness and a smile. A father of one of the students spoke to Hsiao-Mei about how he loved my performance as I was always smiling. Many of the other students had never before been on a stage; they lacked stage presence and looked like “cement” he said. He believed that this vibrant attitude was the most important gift we brought to Zhuhai.

Where before, every task was automatic and mechanical, I believe they have now begun to think about their lives and how every action has a purpose. They have started to think about what they really want and how education is one way to achieve it – they are realizing that education is more than memorization and high test scores. They have choices and options in their lives; they have an infinite number of paths to choose from – they just were unaware previously. I did not know that this would be the final outcome of my teachings but in realizing what I have brought to my students, I also realize for myself now. This is what DukeEngage has not only helped Chinese students to see, but has also helped me see in my own life.

So no, I did not produce 100 middle school students with perfect English. But each of my students can now say their name and age confidently in English. For me, that is enough. For many of them, that is more English than they have ever spoken in their entire lives. Their English classes do not teach conversations or public speaking. We have helped them come out of their shell a bit and feel comfortable in their skins – we have helped them create their own voices.

DukeEngage, thank you for the most rewarding summer experience I have ever been blessed to partake in. I am eternally grateful.


Some snapshots & videos as well as kind words:

Post Performance Emails

-Rebecca, It was a really wonderful night that I have never had. Of course,we will visit you every day ^_^. Baby…he really misses you(oh my god,I can’t stand it. O(∩_∩)O).  Remember this summer,OK?I

am looking forward to your coming back.



-We spent a really wonderful party last night,and I also really thanks for holding such a surprised

birthday party for me.I know that you are going back to America soon,but I really want to be

with you…T-T.I hate Gods,because when you are going back it’s when I deeply miss you.But I

believe we will be good friends forever,won’t we?We will visit you everyday,all right?


(Translated by Jacky)

Skyping with my Host Sister, Melody

-See the letter you gave me when I cried for a long time. Every day I will see it again. For you I will study hard in English. I said to my mother i should be admitted to Duke University to come find you. Of course, another choice is help my mom wash the bowls for 4 years.

-You just walked away?I will never see you again?Someone said, some people can only meet once, just you and me.12: 00I look at you in the living room to picking up something on your forehead cloth out of thin Khan, but I can see.That night you come into the room to find me, you gave us a lot of gifts. These are outside can be bought, but I think only you can buy, always think so.Then we hugged and cried, suddenly I like the life of the tears had light. If you are so good, that I would not cry forever to you.Really want the time stop at that moment. Maybe you do not know it, was the first time anyone so hold me cry.My endless missing, infinite love, give you.

QQs from students

-Rebecca,I am Linnet. I miss you, I miss the time and you. That period of time, I am happy, never happy. I grew up, must go to the United States watching you. Also, remember that regular contact. I will miss you every day. And,I love you.

-Jackie: I am busy with my computer competition
Rebecca: oh wow. what do you do
Jackie: it’s about informatics. some rudimentary knowledge of computer,make programs,solve some mathematic question
(He’s in the 8thgrade! What?!)

Last Day Photo (post hairwashing)

My Breakers!

My Breakers’ Dance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFFuJB8BYhs

Jonathan’s Video Montage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyxsghPxGXM

Zhe’s Photo Montage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-xw8vDK3uo

gboyoed zHUH(?)ai

And now we’re down to our final few days here at Zhuhai.  I’m still trying to process what has just happened the past 2 months.  When it comes to writing, be it an essay or a blog post, I can never find the right words to convey how I’m feeling.  So I leave you with a random list of things that have made me happy here in Zhuhai (in no particular order).

– Eating dinner with my host family

– Playing with Gao’s 2 year old brother

– Attempting to repeat the Chinese that my family and students have taught me (Zou!  Kuai dian!  Xianzai!)

– Chilling with the students in the office

– Getting a massage with Mary

– Messing around with Lanche (“Lunch. No Lunch.”)

– Running around the school track with Rebecca, Zhe, and Abby

– Singing “Waving Flag” with my singing class

– Forcing Top to wear his red bracelet

– Talking with the students of Jinan University

– Instant Messaging my students on QQ

– When Vivabel and Debbie brought the songs back to the right tempo and key

– Grabbing lunch with students

– Using hand motions and broken English to communicate

– Learning about the Chinese culture

– Meeting my host family’s extended family

– Group classes with Ji Won, Shariza, and De’Shaun

– Joking around with Lulu

– Exploring the city by getting lost with Abby

– Setting up penpals between my students and American students

– Impromtu jam sesh

– Frisbee with the kids

– Eating the delicious food of Cedric’s host mom


– Immersing myself in a different culture with 11 strangers

—– Jerbear ——

Quirks of China

By Rebecca Pham

  • Lychee picking is all the rage, yet although this fruit is a specialty in this province, my host mother warned me against eating too many. Apparently, lychees are a “hot” fruit and excessive consumption can lead to fainting spells or skin rashes. To remedy these symptoms, my host mother made me drink a salt water solution.
  • We witnessed a “traditional” Chinese mock wedding, but to me it seemed far from traditional. It began with contortionist triplets leading into a juggling/spinning bowls on fingers clown act and finally a comedic performance of the wedding ceremony in which Deshaun volunteered to be the groom. After a quick makeover, he graced the stage adorned in a long gown, gaudy hat with feathers like donkey ears, and two extremely large melons hanging from his neck. He took a short boat ride across the river to fetch his wife to be, and then they disappeared behind the back of the stage only to reappear with two white baby dolls.
  • Some of the middle schoolers invited us to the “Lost Island” for a weekend. This Chinese water park was extremely entertaining. Unlike America, however, swimsuit attire is quite the opposite of the like in American culture. Women here are completely covered in strange one pieces/tankinis that resemble dresses and mini-skirts while men are clad in the tightest waist high speedos that are also quite short in length.
  • Chinese hospitality within homes and schools has been so incredible; yet, do not be fooled. The Chinese can be quite aggressive when they need to be. On the streets, you must have your wits about you as you fight for taxis. People often “steal” them away. In one instance, some of our DukeEngagers were waiting as a passenger was exiting a cab. Unfortunately for them, some girls a few feet behind them quickly and stealthily rushed past and entered the cab.
  • According to students at Jinan University, religion is a very secret practice. Students who worship must do so secretly and you never hear of organized groups on campus.
  • Dating culture in China is awful for short guys. Northern men apparently have it a lot better than Southern men because the meet the minimum height requirement. Apparently girls won’t even consider men below 1.8 meters regardless of how attractive they are.
  • An email I received from my dance student that had me beaming. So sweet. But also I wonder if this is how I sound in Spanish when I use google translate?:
    • The teacher, was laborious! I always want to say with you, but I will not in English and you said.
    • Thank you!
    • These days of study, I have learned a lot. Every time I see you shed sweat, we were very moved. Anyway, thank you! !!!!! !!!!! !!!!! !!!!!
    • (I use the translation is the instrument to chat with you, oh!!!!! I can’t twist waist well, like snakes)                                                                                                                              -Jessy
  • My host family taught me this interesting game. You have a sheet of paper and draw a long rectangle and then you divide the rectangle into 9 even sections. You have four board markers on one side and four on another (they used candy, marker tops, and clothes pins). So there is one empty rectangle dividing the two sets of board markers. The goal is to completely switch the board markers – get them to the opposite side, but each marker can only move forward one rectangle or jump over one marker if there is an empty rectangle ahead. Markers cannot move backwards. It’s quite an addicting game and nearly impossible.
  • Cold jokes:
    • Once there was a very bored polar bear. He began to pluck off the fur on his arm one by one until he was left hairless. What did he say?…Brrr…I’m cold
    • There was a dog running on the beach and he died. How did he die?…He had nowhere to use the bathroom.
    • Apparently jokes that aren’t funny are humorous.
  • Song lyrics: I like you like a small mice likes big rice.
  • How to pick up a girl
    • Step 1. Buy a house from her
    • Step 2. Give her cash
    • Step 3. She realizes she is missing 1000 yuan
    • Step 4. She calls you to get her missing money
    • Step 5. Invite her to dinner
    • Step 6. Fall in love and get married
    • How my uncle and aunt met

My English Class

My Dancers



Family & the Pearl Lady

What I’ve Seen

I’ve been hesitant to post a blog because I feel like my view of our experiences here is biased, and I didn’t want to misrepresent the people and the culture here, both of which I am just beginning to become familiar with. I remember before I came I had a picture in my mind that was completely different from the way Zhuhai really is. I guess the best I can do is show you some emails I wrote throughout the past few weeks, describing what I was seeing. The first is from the first week in Zhuhai, and the last one is from a couple of days ago.

1. Then we went to the seafood market. In addition to outside shops with live seafood, there was a warehouse sized building- a farmers market filled with all sorts of dried seafood- squid, various fish, sea snail, seahorse, shark fins. They were all organized, labeled, and placed in clear plastic wrapping by family booth. There were also a few strings of fake pearls. A woman with a child in the school we are teaching at offered us squid to try. I accepted a piece; I figure I can’t refuse aalll meat.  It was sweet and then very spicy, with a texture like thin strips of dried mango. The fishy smell was overwhelming in the market though. After that we went to a restaurant and ate all sorts of dishes, again on the lazy susan tables. The school children we were with were quite polite and friendly. They helped serve us, gave us chopstick lessons, and made sure we got to the food before they did. Afterwards we tried green bean ice cream from a local vendor.

2. I went to the beach the other day. It was awesome; there weren’t waves so we got to swim a lot. We also played volleyball with some kids. I think I mentioned I’ve also been playing basketball. I meet one of the teachers and some of the people in my group and we go to public courts at night, were a bunch of guys usually go. We just start playing against a random group of strangers, and everyone’s really friendly. We do that from 8 to 10, because at ten the lights on the courts cut out.

3. The other day one of the other teachers and I went on a walk after dinner. We found a narrow alley that you can only access by a dark rusty neighborhood gate. Most neighborhoods have these gates, and all residents have little round electronic keys to get in and out. This gate was open though, so we just wandered in. The apartments were so close together that some of the apartment windows that jutted out from the tops of the buildings almost touched each other above us, they were maybe 6 inches apart. When we wandered a little further in, we found an open room on the ground floor, with bright lights coming from it. The shops are opened and closed with garage type doors. This room was like that, with the garage door up. Some women were playing mahjong at the front, and some men sat behind them in a corner and watched. I was surprised to see women playing, I usually see men. I stopped to watch. I hesitated, about to leave, and one of the men offered us stools. We stayed and watched a game, I understand most of it from playing with my brothers back home. Once the round was over they scooped the tiles to the center of the table and the table opened up and consumed them, then laid out new tiles ready to go, in a pattern. Apparently the table redoes itself like how bowling pins reset, it was surprising to me. The guy who invited us asked us to play a round, but I said no because I didn’t want to get trapped into gambling. We kept going down the alley. It was wet and kind of muddy, because it had rained that day. There were plywood planks in some places, to keep walkers off the water I’m guessing. We came across some little kids playing basketball and a room with old style arcade games and a bunch of teenage boys on stools crowded around them. I bought some bubble gum from one shop owner. I asked how much and he tried to get his four-year-old son to translate, it was really cute. Mostly it was just dark apartments though. We eventually found our way out to the main streets, where dinner shops with plastic chairs and tables for outside seating were still open. They can eat late here; the restaurants stay open until 10 or later sometimes. We went past that, and some people selling see-through sunbrellas with holes in them (the use? I don’t know) on the streets, and some others selling jewelry and clothing on racks. On the way back we found a bus stop for the buses to the ocean, so hopefully that will be my adventure this weekend.


Hui Laile (I’m Home)

By Rebecca Pham

Last week, my sights and senses were overwhelmed by Beijing and Xi’an. We visited Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and trekked up the Great Wall. I was laughed at by other tourists and people even took pictures of me as I slowly attempted to go back down the steps of the Wall and ignore my fear of heights. Luckily, I only had to walk part of the way down; I took the toboggan chute for the remainder of the journey down. Then in Xi’an, we discovered the bedazzled wonders of the terracotta soldiers, the comedy of Chinese folk people through a marionette puppet show, the beauty of a culture on Muslim street, and the art of bargaining.

In spite of the amazing grandeur of the all the sites we beheld, returning to Zhuhai was the highlight of my week. I stepped inside and announced in a horrible Chinese accent the phrase my host family had taught me for “I’m home”. Vivian, the most adorable five year old, shouted my name with delight and ran towards me. My host aunt, uncle, and mother prepared a feast for me – how I had missed their home cooking. Melody, my host child, eagerly asked about my trip, wanting to know every detail. It’s strange how much like home Zhuhai has become for me. Yet, after seeing the Great Wall, Forbidden City, and Terracotta soldiers, returning to my host family was still the most welcoming event.

Being back at school has also been a treat; I missed my students a lot, especially my dancers. We’ve begun learning choreography for the final show and Cedric and I are even beginning to plan a collaboration dance with a few of the middle school teachers (we learned some sick choreography to Rebecca Black’s 1 hit wonder. be excited). The only downside of returning to the beach city of Zhuhai was the intense humidity – it’s like a 24/7 steam room. At least sweating is good for you. It’s also been raining quite frequently so that has been a little relief from the heat – Cedric and I even danced in the rain on the rooftop

But yes, I’m so happy to be home, to continue bonding with my family, to continue to watch my students grow and improve their English/dancing. I can’t believe it’s already halfway over.

Host Sister Melody & Younger Cousin Vivian

Am I Dreaming?

Turn our cafeteria into a rehearsal space


DukeEngage 珠海音乐学院

By Hsiao-Mei Ku

“Am I dreaming?” “Where am I?” For a while, I was confused and I thought I was back in my earlier conservatory days. First, I heard the sound of a flute as I walked toward No.9 Middle School. Then I heard a clarinet! Of course, the violin sound will never escape my ears. Yep, there was a guitar accompanying the violin as well. Aiya, the saxophone was singing the countermelody! Wow, there was some kind of instrumental choir going on. Ai, I thought I heard a singing voice along with the sound of ukulele, too.

Between teaching classes and long service days, our students would take out their instruments for fun. They not only enjoy playing what they knew, and but they are also learning new Chinese tunes. A couple of them even taught one-on-one lessons to the No. 9 School students and that was beyond the duty of teaching the 16 extra curricular classes that we offered here. I know my 12 Duke students are majoring in over 10 different areas and that they are all artistically talented. But they continue to amaze me with what they can come up with every day! Well, I have a good idea! Maybe we can form a DukeEngage Zhuhai Band? Ahha, I even have someone in mind to be the conductor!