By MEI KUEI BOHANNAN and MICHELLE DANNER

In our efforts to help students adjust to American life, culture, and academics, the staff here at New Mind Education tries to expose our students to as many aspects of American culture as possible.  So in addition to local university and community events, we take the students on short trips.  This year, the students of UPP (University Performance Program) at NCSU (North Carolina State University) traveled to Washington D.C.  From October 9 to 11, New Mind staff and students enjoyed tours, memorials, shopping, and individual exploration inside of our nation’s capital, as well as getting a unique opportunity to help out local communities.

New Mind staff and students left from Raleigh, NC on Thursday afternoon, traveling by bus to Washington D.C.  Their first stop, after the four hour bus ride, was the Iwo Jima Memorial, located in Arlington, VA.  The memorial, first unveiled in 1954, commemorates the Marine Corps’ long standing services to the United States.   The Iwo Jima memorial was a wonderful way to begin this enjoyable and historical trip since it was designed around an iconic World War 2 photography of the Marine Corps during their service off the coast of Japan.  Here, students had a chance to reflect on and discuss the way countries view the same historical events differently, specifically Asian and American.

The students enjoyed several other memorials and museums during the three-day trip, including the Lincoln memorial; the Korean, Vietnam, and WWII memorials, and various museums along the National Mall.  Although it’s impossible to visit and absorb all of the history available in Washington D.C. in one short trip, the students were able to experience various aspects of American history and reflect on its presentation and the differences of historical representation between China and America.

In addition to showing them American history, New Mind Education wanted to further introduce the structure of the United States government.  A week before the trip, the students studied about both state and federal government, traveling to North Carolina’s capitol building in Raleigh, NC.  Because of this prior experience, the students were better able to understand the finer points of the government tour in Washington D.C.  Their tour guide, Eric, introduced the three branches of government and noted many of the similarities between state and federal government.  The students also had a chance to see all of the embassies currently operating in Washington D.C.

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No New Mind event would be complete without a chance for our students to engage with the local community.  On the last day of the trip, students and staff traveled to Maryland, where they helped a small community plant trees along a local creek.  The job had particular importance to the community, which the mayor explained to students and staff.  The creek tended to overflow in times of heavy rain, which would cause flooding for the houses nearest to the creek.  By planting more trees, the flooding could prevented as the trees’ roots would absorb the overflow of water, protecting the closest houses and the rest of the community as well.  The job itself wasn’t easy.  It involved a lot of shoveling, cold weather, and a bit of rain, but the students and staff pushed through.  The experience was very satisfying for all of them.

Packed as it was with history, culture, and a bit of hard work, the students and staff of New Mind enjoyed the trip.  It was a wonderful opportunity for the students to travel and see a new part of America and its culture, experience some of America’s history firsthand, and participate in a job crucial to a local community.  In three tiring but fun-filled days, the students moved all the closer to being global citizens.