By TIFFANY MERRITT
Editor: MICHELLE DANNER
Autumn has officially arrived with the falling of many colorful leaves amidst the cool, crisp temperatures that make everyone want to cozy up with some hot apple cider and a warm blanket. UPP at Greensboro Director Enoch Chow wanted our students to have the ultimate Fall experience so he planned a fun weekend trip for everyone in Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville is a famous city in North Carolina, well-known for its architecture, breath-taking views, rich history, and unique culture.
On Friday, October 30, UPP students and staff members Enoch, Tiffany, Susanne, and Jordan set-out on the three-hour bus drive to Asheville. After getting everyone settled at the Blue Ridge YMCA, our tour guide Isaiah (from Academic Expeditions) invited everyone to gather around a bonfire crackling and popping with life. Here, UPP students learned how to make the traditional American staple, s’mores. They also sang campfire songs accompanied by Isaiah’s guitar.
The next morning, on Halloween, UPP students had several choices for morning activities. They could go hiking, walk around the trails, or catch up on their homework at the lodge. The majority of students joined Isaiah, Enoch, Jordan, and Tiffany on a 4 mile hike. At the scenic overlook, everyone could see Asheville spread out between rolling mountains adorned with orange, yellow, and red trees. While the climb posed a light challenge to the students, the beauty of nature made it well worth it and proved one of Asheville’s mottos, “There’s more to life than the climb.” This concept is what we hope all UPP students will learn to embody after going through our program as we teach them grit and resilience while they pursue personal and academic success. This hike was a beautiful and helpful metaphor to show that although challenges may come (like the uphill slopes during the hike), the pay-off that comes from arriving at the top often makes the climbing pains fade away.
After the hike, students explored downtown Asheville then went to a local neighborhood to Trick-or-Treat with Americans. In this neighborhood, students witnessed extravagant Halloween displays on some of the houses including lights, spooky decorations, music, giant cat eyes, and even a Christmas themed house! Following Trick-or-Treating, students participated in a dance held at the gas station. One of our students, Xie Fengchen, even had a dance-off with one of the American kids!
The next morning everyone enjoyed a delicious breakfast cooked by Enoch before heading to the Biltmore House. This estate is the largest, privately-owned estate in the United States. UPP students toured the grounds and house, in awe of the magnificent property and landscape. The weekend was filled with a lot of American culture and new experiences. Students won’t soon forget this trip!