what does it mean to be human?

after staying in shanghai for a couple of days, i made my way to beijing for hsylc! hsylc is an eight day conference for chinese high school students to participate in where a bunch of harvard students come to teach seminars to them. it’s basically like a summer camp for them and we teach classes, hold extracurricular activities, and are sorted into houses. the seminar that i’ve been teaching is about the evolutionary track of humans and looking at similarities/differences between humans and some of our closest ancestors.

we teach three 1.5 hour seminar classes to a total of four different groups of students. this means that we have to teach the same class FOUR TIMES. i did not realize how hard it is to be a teacher!! it gets so tiring. but overall, the kids are amazing. the kids who get to attend hsylc are some of the top students at their high schools and there are also some kids who are here who go to private schools in the US or Europe. the kids work incredibly hard and have so many interesting perspectives to offer during the seminar classes. and after having conversations with these students, i am continually impressed by their english and their ideas. 

today was about the half way point of hsylc so i had my last classes! these pictures are my students from seminar A and seminar B. since it’s a class about primates/humans, i told some of them to pretend to be monkeys! they were a litle hesitant at first but i’m glad they all agreed to my crazy photo taking ways. (: i’m excited to meet another two groups of students in the following days!

outside of classes, i’ve been running the “crafts” extracurricular activity. students get to choose from a variety of extracurricular activities that the other harvard seminar leaders and i are helping to run. at arts & crafts, i have been teaching them how to make friendship bracelets. unsurprisingly, usually only girls come but today, there were two boys! it was funny to watch them work so diligently on their bracelets and their bracelets turned out really good! 

the hsylc students are sorted into 12 different houses and i’m in charge of DIGNITAS house with two other seminar leaders. we did some bonding activities with them to generate house spirit! we played a bunch of different games including the human knot although that quickly ended because our knot was somehow actually IMPOSSIBLE to untangle and all that body heat was getting incredibly hot. we did, however, come up with one of the best house cheers that the students learned: “dignitas, applesauce, both of them are good. we’re the classiest around, don’t mess with our hood.” BE JEALOUS. 

kind of like harry potter, each house can gain/lose points that will ultimately culminate to the awarding of a “house cup.” today we had our first house games which was a tug of war tournament. unfortunately, dignitas was eliminated in the first round which was sad but at least we gave it our best effort! then, all of the seminar leaders played against all of our teaching assistants (chinese college students who help us with our seminars!) and we LOST. sad. tug of war is a lot harder than i remember it being! 

with some kids from dignitas house! (:

last night, we had a cocktail party! chinese high schools are INCREDIBLY rigorous so for a lot of the kids, it was their first time going to a fun casual social gathering. there wasn’t much dancing but there was lots of picture taking. it was pretty entertaining to see some of the non-asian seminar leaders be treated almost like celebrities as some of the students were actually getting in line to take pictures with them. but for me and some of the other asian seminar leaders, only our students would come up to take pictures with us. it was pretty interesting to see that dynamic but also understandable that we are not as exciting as some of the other seminar leaders here. haha

hello oassis lovelies!

still five more days here at hsylc! so far, i have been having a great time and can’t wait to teach another two groups of students. i hope these kids are getting a great experience out of this program and at the same time, i have learned a lot from them. i am grateful for the experience to be teaching these students and love their willingness to work hard and ask really interesting questions to show that they’re really thinking. woohoo for more hsylc adventures! 


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