University of Vermont

To China and Back Again

2012 GIAC-China alumnis talk with ease about their life as a traveler in China to future GIAC-China 2013 students

Visiting Scholar Duan, in her traditional Naxi dress, shows students how to create Chinese lucky stars.

The Governor’s Institute on Asian Cultures Reunion this past Saturday marked a longstanding GIAC tradition of providing the students a chance to meet and reminisce about their lives since the 2012 summer programs in Vermont and in China, but also to provide the GIAC-China alumni a chance to share traveler’s tips to the next cohort of overseas travelers. Although the two groups of students did not know each other at the start of the reunion, within an hour the program Director, Brian Nelligan, had broken up the audience into small groups, and students were chatting away about what to expect when traveling to China.

“Don’t stuff your suitcase with clothes that you think you might wear.” Advised one GIAC-China traveler to her group, mentioning that she did not wear half the clothes she brought. When someone in her group asked about eating Chinese food every day, another student confessed that the tiny packets of peanut butter that his parents insisted he pack were a “life saver” for when he craved a snack from home.

 “High school students really listen to their peers,” explained Brian Nelliagan on his strategy to have the students talk to one another. “It’s a leadership opportunity for the older students, and the younger students are asking questions they may feel nervous asking one of the teachers.”

At the reunion Bill Williams, the director of the Asian Studies Outreach Program, also informed the next cohort of students traveling to China that group would be traveling to Lijiang, China, a town in the Yunnan province and home to the Naxi people, one of the minority groups in China. All the students at the reunion had the opportunity to experience Naxi minority culture as Visiting Scholar Duan Xiuxin showcased her traditional Naxi dress and invited all the students to partake in a traditional Naxi dance. Visiting Scholar He Guofang shared with all the students a presentation on life and culture in the Lijiang region.