A trip of a lifetime. That’s how fourth grade teacher Amanda Angel described her four-week, seven-city journey through China this summer. She chronicled the trip on Instagram (a.n.angelwasinchina).
Mrs. Angel, who teaches math, dove right into the Chinese educational system and visited Tianjin International School. She met with their fourth grade math teachers and the curriculum administrator to talk about educational philosophy, and she visited a class in session. “I’m bursting at the seams to share my take-aways. So much gratitude for the students, administrators, and students who welcomed this American stranger with warm hearts,” she wrote on her Instagram post.
She visited Beijing and enjoyed taking in the sights at night. “I saw the city come alive in a whole different way,” she wrote. Mrs. Angel took a class to learn how to make authentic Chinese dumplings, and she will be using the recipes in her classes to teach measurements. “They’ll have to master measurement with grams as well as angles first, though!” she wrote.
Next on the itinerary was Zhujiajiao, (otherwise known as “Water Town”). “A two-hour metro ride outside of Shanghai, and this old style Chinese town was a gift that kept on giving, with breathtaking and very authentic Chinese scenes around every turn.” In Shanghai, she enjoyed some of the areas that still look French from the time of French occupation.
Then, she took a 10-hour train ride to Chongqing, and she made more dumplings in Chengdu. In this city, she lived a childhood dream to see pandas. “I really liked panda things when I was a little girl. No surprise, my family sometimes called me Amanda Panda,” she wrote. “Just watching them eat (loads of bamboo) was mesmerizing. There was one bear I spent about 45 minutes with! My heart was filled to the brim this morning just by getting close to these amazing and adorable animals. I was also so glad to learn of all the great work in preserving and protecting them that the Panda Breeding and Research Center in Chengdu is doing for the bears.”
There was more sightseeing at the Wenshu Monastery. “It was so peaceful, and the courtyards were like a maze of breathtaking scenery,” she wrote.
In Leshan, she saw a giant 1,300-year-old Buddha carved in the rock of the mountain. “Apparently, there used to be a lot of shipwrecks right here on the River Dadu, where three rivers converge, and a monk spent his life raising money for this project to build a Giant Buddha to protect the sailors,” she wrote.
Guilin was a favorite city. “Guilin is so down to earth, so friendly, so Chinese! It’s a much smaller town than the others by comparison. It was amazing to run alongside the River Li this morning, join in a square dance, and enjoy a wonderful fresh fruit lunch,” Mrs. Angel wrote.
Another adventure was hiking to Yao Mountain, and Mrs. Angel also learned about tea on her journey. The final stop was Hong Kong.
“There were so many people that I met along the way who were absolutely essential to my experience. Staying in hostels is great for meeting other travelers from around the world, which is nice when you’re traveling solo to make a new friend now and then,” she wrote. “Even though I traveled alone, it was very rare that I ever felt lonely. The world is full of friends and great people just waiting to cross paths with you.”
Mrs. Angel's trip was made possible by the O.J. Morgan Travel Grant, which is provided to one teacher each summer. She is the ninth teacher to receive the grant.