In the last blog post I mentioned that I thought I lucked out with my team. I know for certain that I did! They were all very kind and so funny. I enjoyed getting to know Scarlett, Joy, and Omega. Gou Jing and the nature reserve employees took very good care of me. They would all worry about my diet and would question if I was getting enough food. One day I mentioned I love potatoes, so I was told that I would get potatoes for dinner that night. A few days later the same thing happened with pumpkin. I was worried about the food situation before leaving for the camp. I was unsure if there would be vegetarian options. There was no need to worry, I was completely spoiled. A funny food story… The man who worked for the nature reserve was the one always asking me what vegetables I like. One evening we got to the restaurant for dinner and he walked out and showed me cucumbers. I nodded and gave him a thumbs up (that was a common reaction from me the entire week). A few moments later he walked back out and handed me the raw cucumber. He sits down and proceeds to eat his cucumber like how you would eat a pickle. I was totally caught off guard. I laughed and chomped right into it. It was delicious…and hilarious! A few days later a few of the team members hiked the mountain and they brought me back a “holy” cucumber.Holy because it was found growing right next to the Buddha statue.
The kids in the second camp were just as adorable as the first camp! Once again I was blown away by the creativity and knowledge of these children. They each participated and engaged in all of the activities. They were so happy and energetic. I loved interacting with them. Even though there is a language barrier, we found other ways to communicate. Acting things out or actions as simple as holding hands. These kids were very special. I realized that I was not fully engaging, I tend to be reserved especially if I know the interaction will be brief. I realized on the last day of camp that I was subconsciously trying to not become attached to these sweet children. It didn’t work. One of the little girls cried quietly when we were getting ready to leave and it broke my heart. I walked over and hugged her and kissed the top of her head. It is an overwhelming feeling when you realize how much of an impact individuals have on each other. I could feel the tears in my eyes for a while after we left. I started listening to music and zoned out when a thought crossed my mind. I thought “what if that was Kenzie (my niece who is about the same age as the little girl)?” The tears came flooding back. I once again was reminded how lucky I am to live in a country that expects every child to get an education.
The kids loved the different activities. I enjoyed watching the children build habitats for animals, interview people on the water walk, and perform their campaign to protect the trees. Special little souls that have made my life better and brighter.