By ERIN HOLLOWAY
Editor: MICHELLE DANNER
April has been a whirlwind of exams, final papers and projects for the students.” As students have continued to immerse themselves in America and its culture,” Steve Pond, UPP Director at NC State, said, “we want to continue to help them adapt to new surroundings and challenges as well.”
For this semester’s trip, students visited a unique and very special location in North Carolina: the National Whitewater Center, which is the qualifying and training grounds for United States Olympic athletes. Although it was only a weekend trip, from April 8 to 10, students had ample opportunities to challenge themselves and try new things, while taking a much needed vacation from looming deadlines in their classes.
The National Whitewater Center provided numerous challenges, such as rock climbing (3 routes to choose from), hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, paddle boating, climbing rope courses (7 routes to choose from), zip-lining and of course, whitewater rafting!
“Students got to climb to new heights, brave raging rapids in fast-moving rivers, and mountain bike, trail run and climb to their heart’s content,” Steve Pond said. “In our experience, introducing new and challenging experiences in a safe and controlled environment really helps to motivate, encourage and empower students. It was great to see these qualities emerge in so many of our participants this year!”
From 11:30-1:30pm on Saturday, students could explore whatever activity they wanted. A popular attraction was Hawk Point, a high-ropes course built over the river. At about 1:30, they geared up in wetsuits, water shoes and splash jackets to attend an orientation about whitewater rafting to cover procedures and safety concerns, such as what to do if they fell out of the raft.
“For me, I think it’s hard for me to get such experience,” Tianming Liu said. “The most interesting part of our group is that our captain fell into the water during the rafting. My favorite part of the trip is the rafting!”
The UPP group set out in groups of 8, to brave class 3 and 4 rapids along the man-made river. Some rafting guides even arranged for the groups to go “surfing” meaning the raft was wedged into a rapid for a few seconds, so water spills into the raft.
“I think the rafting was very, very fun,” Lingchao Mao said. “We got totally wet and we asked the trainer to get us to a more exciting one again and again They said they will make my glasses drop, after three founds, one of the team fall off the boat, but my glasses did not. There were so many things to do and have fun with friends: mountain biking, kayaking, high ropes, zip lines, climbing, etc. Especially I liked climbing, very very challenging. I tried to climb a blue line again and again and every time I get a little bit higher. It is to surpass yourself and being aware that you need to go to the gym, haha.”
“I think rafting is a team work, and it is a challenge to keep balance in the boat and not fall in the water,” Xiaorui Qu said. “My favorite part of the trip is the mountain biking. I have never done that before and I felt excited and the view is so pretty!”
The spring trip also coincided with a rare and special event - kayaking athletes were training to be accepted into the upcoming Olympic games! This event drew a large American crowd, and many different breeds of dogs, which allowed students plenty of chances to meet and converse with Americans.
On Sunday, students visited Concord Mills, one of the largest shopping malls in North Carolina. Once again, students had a selection of activities they could choose from, such as the aquarium, arcade, go karts, movie theatre and many shops and restaurants to visit before they returned to their dorms that evening.
Overall, this event taught students to be more independent and to choose their own adventure - the maximum benefit comes from greater challenges. We hope students will take these experiences and apply them to the future - to follow their interests and enjoy facing obstacles.