Emma Urbaska 2014-4-15This morning felt like any other morning I’ve had in China. I woke up, went to breakfast, and hopped on a bus headed to the Hohhot International Experimental School. Our group was lead to a conference room that looked like any other Chinese conference room I’d seen before, a long wooden table filled the room and big leather chairs lined the table. A head teacher of the school came in and gave us a brief history of the school and that’s where the familiar sights and actions changed into new and interesting information. The man told us that the school was founded in the 1800’s and how it started off with less than a hundred students enrolled. Currently, there are over 2,000 students in this school and I learned how important each and every one of those students is to the saving of the Mongolian culture and language. Although Mongolian language is a big part of this school, the students are also required to learn English and Chinese fluently before graduation. I thought this was extremely prestigious, though the staff talked about it like it was nothing. After the conference, Journey East walked down to the athletic fields to participate in morning exercises. A head teacher organized the kids in rows according to class and a recording of exercise music started playing. 2,000 plus Chinese kids proceeded to do a series of kicks, claps, and arm movements. It was so cool to see this and actually be able to participate in it. It was hard to follow along at first, but after a while I wasn’t worried so much about the movements themselves but the experience I was getting. Once morning exercises were done, most students headed back inside to the classrooms. Some students stayed outside and were involved in many different activities such as basketball, wrestling, jump rope, stretching, running and soccer. We had some time to interact with the Mongolian kids and after a while of walking around and joining in on some of the children’s play, our Journey East group organized a soccer game with some of the Mongolian boys. A few minutes into the game I realized how incredibly athletic the Mongolian boys were. A couple of boys passed the ball around our entire field of players, crossed it in front of the goal and proceeded to bicycle the ball in to the back of the net. We were all looking at each other in shock after that and knew the game had already been won, but we were all having so much fun that we played up until we had to leave for lunch. Thinking back on the soccer game, the Mongolians approached it much differently than the Han Chinese did in the places we went before Inner Mongolia. The Mongolian students treated us as equals, especially the girls. In places like Qufu and Chongqing the boys would go especially easy on the girls but here in Mongolia the boys didn’t hold back. I felt a higher level of respect to be treated as an equal as opposed to a ‘weak girl’. Later in the day we performed for a school in Inner Mongolia. 1,500 students showed up for the show. There wasn’t enough room for them all to sit in the auditorium so clumps of eager high school students lined the walls of the auditorium. We had twenty minutes to perform so we chose acts that didn’t involve special costumes or instruments to keep the show easy and simple. I have noticed how much easier and natural it is for our group to perform now that we have been in China and have experienced big crowds. Dinner tonight was very sweet. It’s Logan’s birthday today so some of the Mongolians in our tour group got a cake for Logan to share with Jessica and Charly, they have also had birthdays on the trip. We sang happy birthday to all of them before heading to the auditorium on campus of the Art School of Inner Mongolia to see a performance done by a Mongolian band. *Written during the performance by the Mongolian band* I am currently sitting in an auditorium at the Performing Arts School of Inner Mongolia. It is so hard to focus on writing due to the wonder filling the room. Words can’t begin to describe how incredible the Mongolian music is. One thing I loved about the performance was the Mongolian language itself. It is so beautiful and unique, just like the music being played by the band. The music is so overwhelming and played with such feeling and power that is the opposite of playing music off of sheet music. The sound that the band makes comes straight from the hearts of these men; you can tell by the way their body’s rock and their brows furrow, all the while keeping their eyes closed. For me, the music is so powerful that I feel it in my heart and soul as well and it gives me a certain feeling, almost such as a spiritual connection. It’s as though you are seeing right into the lives of these musicians and to me there is nothing more amazing than when music can have that effect on someone. Our group is all back from the performance now, yet I still feel like I’m in a trance and the Mongolian songs are still running through my head. I hope to learn a Mongolian song while I’m here because the music really fascinates me.