By Cade Shore
Over the summer, 19 Cubs embarked on the Discover China Trip 2016, Loyola’s first organized excursion to the country. Led by Dean of Men Daniel Annarelli, former Junior Network Administrator David Smith and Mandarin instructor Michael Mikita, the students visited three major cities, Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai, as well as many other historic landmarks.
Because the majority of Cubs that went on the trip previously took a course in Mandarin, the objective of the journey was to expose the students to the diverse Chinese culture and strengthen their skills in the native language.
Mikita said, “The goal of the visit was to give Loyola students an opportunity to explore China’s history and culture and to give those students who have spent several years studying Mandarin the chance to engage with the language in the nation where it is spoken.”
The Cubs first arrived in Beijing, the capital city of China, and immediately began exploring. Some of the more famous landmarks the group visited were the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China and the Summer Palace.
Annarelli said that one of the most memorable parts of the trip was walking up the Great Wall and having no other tour group there except for Loyola students. Annarelli said, “On the day we went to the Great Wall, it was raining. We were the only ones there, and it was really amazing to see our Loyola guys, after we cut them loose, climb up the wall in the rain. At the peak of the wall, you could see the whole landscape and clouds over the area.”
Senior Trejon Shelton said that exploring the Great Wall was also the highlight of the visit to Beijing. “[Climbing] was scary yet intriguing at the same time. It was frightening due to the fact that lightning and thunder started happening when I was climbing up, and I was at a height well above 1,000 feet; however, getting to the top was very rewarding,” Shelton said.
After Beijing, the next stop was Xi’an, an urban city located in central China. The Cubs visited major monuments including the Terracotta Warriors Museum, the Ancient City Wall and the Muslim Quarter.
One of the featured landmarks in Xi’an was the Muslim Quarter. Because it was the season of Ramadan, a month in the Islamic faith that focus on strict dietary laws, the Cubs saw hundreds of residents out walking in the streets with their families to celebrate the sacred festivity.
Annarelli said, “Seeing the Quarter was an amazing cultural experience to sort of be around, which is not typically what we are used to in America and Europe.”
The last stop on the trip was Shanghai, a coastal city that is a financial hub for China’s international trade. The Cubs visited the Yu Garden, Nanjing Road and the Shanghai World Financial Center.
Senior Kobe Cuevas said that his favorite part of the trip was ascending to the top of the Financial Center and observing the city from a bird’s-eye view. Cuevas said, “I loved seeing the city of Shanghai from the Shanghai World Financial Center. We were 1,500 feet above the ground and looked at the amazing city below. The observation deck even had glass floors, adding to the already stunning view.”
Shelton said students should go on this journey because it will help them to better value human interactions. He said, “A student should go on this trip because it will allow them to develop a better appreciation for people in general. It allows one to break social barriers and walls of perception. It will open up a new window in their lives, and most importantly, it helps to develop a better understanding of the Chinese culture and rich history it has to offer.”
Annarelli and Mikita hope to continue this trip next year as Loyola’s Mandarin program continues to grow.