Hello everyone! For those who are parents of the delegates, and have not talked to them, we have boarded the flight home and will beginning take off shortly. Hopefully, we will land around two o’clock as the flight was delayed about forty minutes. I will be writing posts on the long flight home and sending them once we arrive back in America. See everyone soon!
It ended bittersweet. We had a day in Hong Kong filled with strange food and rain clouds. Umbrellas were a common sight as were motion sick delegates, but the day was made better by Maggie’s speech at the end which brought me to tears. So, instead of writing a description about our day or a life lesson I learned I’m going to write Maggie a thank you letter and, hopefully, all of you will understand what a large part of this experience she has been.
I remember meeting you at the airport and thinking “This woman is the cutest asian and I can already tell I am going to love her”. Nothing has changed except to that list I would add sassy, hilarious, and the best person to have you take around China.
From day one you enforced the rules, but always had a sense of humour about you. You told me, and everyone else, that the only thing you wanted us to learn was appreciation, something you reiterated in your speech tonight. I have learned to not only appreciate this trip, the opportunity that has been afforded to me, and the sacrifices my parents have made to get me here, but also the culture of China and particularly Beijing. You mentioned tonight that it isn’t about the date the Forbidden City was built or the exact population of any given city, it is about appreciating what we saw and how we saw it. I climbed the Great Wall, I created amazing friendships, and I learned about a people I’d only ever read about. But Maggie, I didn’t just see them, I experienced everything and you helped me see why this culture is so unique and special. You, and your sass, made our group feel like an extremely dysfunctional family in which you were our lion mother willing to do anything to protect her cubs.
I can’t think of seeing this country without anyone but you. Your smile and laugh made every long bus ride more enjoyable. You went along with any hilarity we threw your way, catching onto the sassmaster quips and the squirrel jokes. Your squeals of surprise when we scared you with a snake made me want to pack you in my suitcase and share you with everyone I know. You went off program to give us a true Chinese cultural experience from the Shanghai mall to the Hong Kong market making the trip more exciting and spontaneous. I am gratefuI I had the chance to meet you and if this was your last delegation with People to People I am glad it was with us.
This experience of a lifetime will forever be cemented in my story and I am glad I had a chance to add you as a character. There is a song from Wicked, a breath taking musical on Broadway in New York which you should see if you ever come to America, and it is called “For Good”. There is a line in the song and for me it sums up everything I can’t say without crying:
“It well may be that we will never meet again in this lifetime, so let me say before we part so much of me is made of what I learned from you, you’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart”.
So, zai jian Maggie. Thank you for all you have done and don’t forget us, because I know myself, and everyone else, will never forget our favourite amasian.
Technically today was our last day but, we still had as much fun as any day. For breakfast we had pancakes at Pope Lease Pines. Then we went to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology which is the biggest dinosaur museum in the world. I saw so many different kinds of fossils and the cool was they put the fossils in life like positions. The even showed dinosaurs killing their prey. I learned a few things and they are that raptors hunted in packs, that there are seven different types of fossils, and the word dinosaur means fearfully great lizard.
From there we drove for a while until we arrived at Peter’s Drive-In which is an extremely popular hamburger joint. We had a burger, fries, and a giant milkshake. My favorite was the milkshake it was so delicious I wish I could have had 5 more. After eating a yummy lunch we drove on to the Canada Olympic Park in Calgary. I was so excited to go see it. When we got there we found out we had to do a scavenger hunt in one hour. Each place had a paper and you had to figure out the questions on the paper about that site. When we finished it turned out my team tied for second. I was kind of bummed but it was cool being at where the real olympics were held.
After the olympic park we drove to downtown Calgary and ate dinner at a chinese restaurant. After dinner. After eating we we walked to the Calgary tower. On the observation deck it was a 360 view and they had a spot were the floor was glass so, it was really cool but kind of scary. It was an awesome view of Calgary and a lot of fun. Once we were done with that we went to the University of Calgary where we were staying for our last night we had a small awards ceremony after a great last day.
At the teepee camp we ate breakfast and walked the 5 min walk to our coach. We drove for the morning and at lunch time we arrived at Pope Lease Pines where our miner shacks were. We ate lunch but didn’t go to our shacks because it was raining.
We got back into the coach and drove to the Hutterites. They are just like the amish but, they are more modern. They use electricity and cars which the amish don’t. We also saw were they eat their and were the cook them. We learned that girls start cooking and baking at 17 and boys start the farming at 15, we learned that the women can’t wear shorts or pants only skirts also they have to wear a head bonnet always even when they sleep, and the boys have to wear black pants with a shirt. The next thing we saw was their church and the ladies house that did the tour it was cool because they made most of the things in their house even the couches.
Once our tour was over we said good bye and drove to the Atlas coal mine where we got to ride on a train that’s powered by electricity outside the mine we did some things to help the man drive the train like moving things out of the way of the or moving the tracks to turn around. On my job they put coal dust on our faces. All of the jobs were real things that had to be done back then.
When the ride was over we drove to the East Coulee School Museum. There we ate dinner, then we split in half one group did the school experience and one went to the basement. I was in the basement group and down there we saw where the high school kids would go for their class and then we heard some ghost stories too. From there we went to one room upstairs that told us about miners but I had to rush because it was our turn to do the school experience but,I did see a miner shack. From there we did the school. It was cool seeing what school was like for kids in the 1930s. The teacher was very strict and didn’t allow any misbehavior. It was kind of funny too.
After the musuem we went to the hoodoos which are a bunch of rocks that eroded into the shape of mushrooms. I had fun walking on the rocks and all of the weird forms. Once our time was up we went to our miner shacks for the night.
On day 9 we woke up at the teepee camp to a pancake breakfast with sausage. From there we headed to the Head Smashed-In buffalo jump museum which is the best preserved jump site and learned how the indians would first choose which jump to use by the way the wind was blowing, then use smoke to move the buffalo, after that they dressed up like wolves to agitate the Buffalo, and finally a buffalo runner dressed in buffalo skins would run trying to get the herd to stampede over the edge while people on the sides of would make loud noises. It was a long process, but it gave them the meat they needed. After learning all of this information we went out to the jumpsite and got all of our pictures. Once we went back inside we walked around and learned more about what the indians used and how they lived.
We then left the jumpsite and went back to the teepee camp. The activity we did first was we learn 3 different kind of indian dances the rabbit dance, the owl dance, and the round dance. Now this was not my favorite activity because we had to have a partner and I did not find the dancing very fun. I was excited though about the screaming game I saw the other group playing and it involved yelling and running. When we switched groups I was very excited about playing. The objective was to run as far as you could yelling in one breath. I did not win in the practice when Marco beat Crisanto at very end or in the real game where it looked like Marco would but Crisanto did. Thy both did really good but, Crisanto won. Crisanto was going to be in a scream off with the winner of the other team to see which group would eat first after our hike.
On the hike we saw some of the plants the indians used for medicine and for tea. We also saw the beautiful plains all around us. It was a lot of fun and really cool. When we got back we had the scream off and unfortunately Crisanto lost. It was ok though because we still got to eat we just had to wait a little time. The buffalo stew was really good and it tasted just like pot roast.
Then we went back up to the harbour and had a mini powwow. The indians and peole from their community did dances for us. It was interesting seeing how different each dance was from each other. After they danced the other group did this snake thing and then we all did the rouund dance. It was actually fun because this we walk in circl come to the middle and yell and then everyon shakes hand in a long line. After when we got back down the hill we could see the rain in the distance. One of the girls did a thunder dance and told us a story. I was scared that I would get struck by lightning. Then it started rainning harder and harder. We all ran into our teepees to stay dry. Once the rain stopped we came back out to the fire and the 2 delegations had their meetings. Then we went to bed.
We woke up and ate breakfast then got on the bus and left Banff. We drove and drove for a while and then we stopped at Tim Hortons for Tim Bits. They were so delicious and yummy. Then we drove a little bit farther to his massive rock that is broken half in the middle of the plains with nothing around. We walked around the rock and took some pictures and then got back on the coach. On the coach we heard the indian story on how the rock got there and broke but actually it was moved there by glaciers moving.
We then drove on and finally arrived at the teepee camp for lunch. Then we went into our teepees and they were huge. After dropping off our bags we made small medicine bags with sage in them which the indians used and we built a small teepee. It was a lot of fun and it was awesome seeing how a teepee is built by leaning all the poles together and then pulling the canvas around it.
We ate spaghetti for dinner and then went up the hill and went into the harbour and heard a few different Blackfoot stories from the elder. Afterwards she answered our questions and we walked back down and looked at the beautiful view of the plains at sunset.
We then settled into our teepees. I was so stoked that we were actually staying in a teepee out on the plains. Then we heard a scratching on the back of our teepee and we looked and a dog was ripping a hole in the back of our teepee. We got the leaders and they took care of it. Then I got back in bed a little nervous that the dog would mess up our teepee and I wanted to stay but, I fell asleep.
On this day we went to the Athabasca Glacier which is part of the Columbia Icefield. We drove there and one thing I noticed when we were driving was that the mountains were up in the clouds. Then when we arrived we took a shuttle bus up to where the snocoaches were. The snocoach looked like a monster truck mixed with a bus. It was very cool and we learned that there are only 23 in the world and 22 are at the glacier. We rode the coach up to the glacier and then got out. It was amazing walking around on the glacier and seeing all the white ice. Then we went over to were the water was melting down and got a bottle of water. It was the best water ever and it was very cold. After we walked around a little bit more and saw the other glaciers next to the Athabasca. I was upset when they said we had to ride back because it was so cool. When we got back on to our regular motor coach after riding back down we watched a movie on the Columbia Icefield and learned some things about it. I learned that the Icefield was used for Alpine Fighting training during World War 2 and that it is prone to avalanches.
On our drive back to Banff we stopped at Peyto lake and another lake and they are green because of the rock flower from the glacier. Then a little while later as we were driving we saw a black bear on the side of the road. It was cool seeing a wild bear for the first time. Then we started driving again back to Banff. When we got there we went shopping for souvenirs for one hour before dinner.
After we ate we got to meet a retired mountie. We learned about the history of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police like how the got royal in their name, how they got a different kind of hat from Montana, and that they don’t ride horses anymore except for a group of Mounties that go around performing drills. Then we learned more about what the man did when was Mountie for 25 years. After we talked Mountie we went to the hot spring. It was really nice except for I didn’t get to stay in for more than 5 minutes because the whole time I was trying to lock my stuff into a locker, the 5 minutes was still nice. After we changed we headed back to the lodge for the night.
The picture of the running water on the glacier is where I drank the water and the picture of what looks like a pool is the hot spring.
On this day we woke up early and went to a local farm for breakfast. Today was another driving day so after a while we stopped at the Golden spike. We saw the spot were the Canadian Pacific Railway had its last spike driven in. (The took the real spike out so no one could steal it.) One thing we learned is that the spike really isn’t golden because they were planning on a silver spike but, the man in charge of the railway said no and that it should be normal spike.
Then after more driving we stopped at Roger’s Pass in Glacier National Park around time and saw a little tiny museum with information on Roger’s Pass all the way back to the 1800s when the Pass was first found. They had information on the animals that live in the region.
After that we drove on some more to the wolf center. There we learned that when wolves run their back feet come up to their front feet so the front makes a path for back feet. Also, we learned that they have webbed feet and we learned order of the whole pack down from the alpha wolf to the omega. One other is the omega sticks its tail in between its legs because he is the lowest and the alpha raises its tail higher because he is at the top of the order. Then at the end we all started howling and the wolves joined in. It was so cool how the wolf howled so loudly and long and it was fun too howling along with them.
We then drove on to Banff and went to the gondola and rode up Sulphur Mountain. It was fun riding in it with my friends. When we got to the top we ate dinner with the beautiful view of the mountains right out the window. After eating our dinner we went up even higher to the observatory deck and saw the beatiful view of the big mountains and of Banff. It was amazing except for that I was freezing cold. After riding down the hill we checked into the lodge we were staying at.
Today we left British Columbia and entered Alberta.
On this day we took the ferry back across the Georgia Strait. We then started the first chunk of our several hour drive that day. After a few hours we arrived at Bridal Falls for lunch. We ate next to a creek on some picnic tables. Then we started the hike up to the falls. The hike was very steep, but the beatuiful view of the water fall was worth it. The water fall is named Bridal because the way the rocks are behind it make it look like a vail. We also learned too, some things are the fall is 180 ft and the trees in the park where the falls are Cedar Western Hamlog and Broadleaf Maple.
As we were driving and about into Kelowna we saw and learned about the difference in a forest fires and clear cuts. A clear cut is were a section off trees is neatly cut down. A forest fire looks like a bunch trees all over the ground. We also saw were a forest fire eight years ago which went on for a month had made some mountains look bare.
Finally after the long drive we arrived in Kelowna and had hamburgers at the college where we were staying for the night. Then we went to the obsidian arrowhead workshop. We learned that the obsidian is much sharper than surgical equipment so, we had to be careful to not get cut. We had to break the edges with an antler to form it into an arrowhed or a leaf shape. After making our arrowheads it was about eight o’clock so, we checked into our dorms on the campus.
On this day drove 2 hours to a play place and did a obstacle course thing called monkido. They had swaying bridges, zip lines, and all kinds of things. It was so much fun. I had a blast.
Then we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows on a fire for lunch. They were really good. When we roatsted the marshmallows we each got our own little individual stick like a skewer. Since it was so short we had to get close the fire and our hands and faces would feel like, but it was worth the soft gooey marshmallows we got. Then 2 of the leaders did bungee jumping and 2 did a swing thing off the bridge. It was so crazy.
On the way back to Victoria we went to Petroglygh Park which is a provincial park (same as a state park) and saw indian carvings. We learned that the indians would show the bones like their backbones or ribs on the people they drew. Then the leaders surprised us and took us to ice cream. Then when got back to Victoria we went to the same restraunt as yesterday again! This night we had tacos. (They have a big variety of foods.) Then we went back to the dorms for our last night there.