Monday, March 25
Today was the public viewing day! Hundreds of local Beijing students and adults descended upon the judging hall in the morning. I spent most of the time next to my poster, explaining my project to visitors who stopped by. I mainly used Chinese to converse with them – I’ve definitely noticed myself becoming more fluent over this trip! I also had a little interview where I was recorded answering questions such as “what inspired you to do this project” and “how are you feeling about this competition.” It was a great experience being able to share my work with so many people! After lunch, we were bussed into the city where we spent the afternoon in a science exhibition building. We first attended a student forum where 7 students from different delegations gave a short talk of their presentation. Emile went first and did an awesome job! Afterwards we got to do some interactive science activities – my favorite was making my own aloe Vera gel and hand lotion! It was really fun and a great way to introduce us to different scientific topics. After returning to the campus and eating dinner, we headed over to the auditorium for awards. It was super high energy and loud, just like the opening ceremony. We were given these plastic clappers which the audience was very fond of! There were special awards given first – they seemed to go mainly to Chinese students. Interspersed between the awards were special cultural performances from different delegations – we were treated to a Russian dance, Ukrainian singing, and more! Our very own Jenny gave a stunning violin performance, which the audience loved. All four of us were recognized with a medal; it was wonderful seeing Team USA being represented on the stage! After the ceremony, we took pictures as a team and with other delegations. What a great way to end a fantastic competition experience!
Tuesday, March 26
We woke up bright and early this morning to head to the Forbidden City! After a nearly two hour bus ride, we finally got off and walked to the entrance. Our energetic tour guide was able to tell us the history behind many of the buildings – I learned that only the emperor was allowed to travel through the central gateway and the empress was only allowed to travel through on her wedding day. There were 24 emperors who lived in the City, and the last emperor Puyi was driven out in the early 1900s. It was fascinating to learn about the purposes of all the different buildings inside the City, which is absolutely massive. Many of the buildings were very ornately decorated, and I wish that we were allowed to walk inside of them. The last stop we visited was the imperial garden, which had many uniquely shaped rocks. Before we left, we stopped by a gift shop where I picked up some small gifts for my teachers and friends. Afterwards, we stopped by a cute coffee shop for a light lunch and to take a rest. In the afternoon, we were able to climb up to a hill in the Jingshan park to the viewing pavilion at the top. There, we were able to get a clear overview of the entire Forbidden City! After we returned to campus and ate dinner, several of us decided to take another trip to the market where we stocked up on new snacks. I purchased a bunch of different gummies which have all been delicious. We said goodbye to one of our translators who is leaving today – it was sad to see her go, as I’ve developed a bond with all of them. I am really grateful we had the chance to do some sightseeing today and learn more about Chinese culture!