Charly Sperling 2014-4-17This morning we headed over to the Arts College to rehearse our performance for tomorrow. It’s been really amazing to work with the dance students because of their experience, talent, and determination to do the best they can possibly do. These students are selected from all over the Inner Mongolia to go to this arts college for their particular talents. So their whole future depends on how well they do now. In America, it’s a completely different story. The students themselves choose what they would like to do, and half the time they don’t even stick with their original decision. During our rehearsal, the girls and boys practiced separately. The style of dance is extremely different from what we’re used to at home. First of all, the boys in our group have never really been exposed to dance lessons, so almost everything is new for them. Most of us girls are used to trying to be “graceful” and “pretty” in ballet lessons from our early childhood, and even presently in Mariah’s case. The style here for the girls is more sudden and sharp; and includes a lot of stomping, which is a pretty drastic change from what we’re used to back home. The moves they are teaching us can be quite challenging at times. They’re very fast and go in a certain sequence which we are expected to memorize. Sometimes, I can tell the students get a little frustrated from showing us the same move over and over again, moves they’ve probably known since the beginning of their training. But, we have rehearsal tomorrow too so I believe with some more practice, we’ll have the performance pretty much down. After rehearsal was over and lunch was eaten, we headed back to the hotel to tidy up, than take the bus to a Mongolian kindergarten. All of us had been looking forward to this since the beginning of the trip, and we couldn’t wait to go and meet all of the little “Mongols” (as Tom would call them). When we arrived, we headed straight to the performance area. As we walked through the halls, we began to notice that everything was small. Small sinks, small railings, small chairs, and even small urinals. Even the fancy stage and plush seats were scaled down. The place was a huge wonderland for five and six year olds. There was a mini swimming pool, a playground, rooms full of little beds, and tons of playrooms including live-sized dollhouses and mini play stores. I thought of my little sister Maise who is currently in first grade, right when I walked through the building’s doors. They were the first to perform for us, which was one of the cutest musical performances I have ever seen in my life. They came up on stage in traditional costumes, smiling and blushing. They did some dances which were actually pretty impressive. Some of the moves were ones we were learning this morning, and they had mastered them already. Of course, even if they just went up on stage and did any sort of action we would love it. My favorite act was when a bunch of them went up on stage with musical instruments, such as guitars, horsehead fiddles, and some drums. A song started playing on the speakers, and they all just sat there smiling, and pretended to play. One little boy was holding the horsehead fiddle sideways, with the bow waving all around. After their performance, we did a shortened version of ours which they absolutely loved, especially Emma and Logan’s skit. At the end of our visit, we all went outside on the playground with about 60 of the kindergarteners. We took pictures and gave gifts, completely immersed in their playful energy. Looking around at my classmates, every single one of them had a smile on their face and a sparkle in their eye. The little Mongolians were overjoyed to see us, let alone interact and spend time with us. They all had very different personalities which was pretty noticeable. Some were outgoing and immediately wanted a hug or to be picked up. Others were shy and seemed almost uncomfortable to be around us. But they were all still the sweetest and most adorable kids I’ve ever met. After leaving, I could tell the general energy of the group had changed. The children’s laughs, smiles, hugs, and shy looks had lightened our moods, and helped shoo the homesickness away. I believe that this experience made some of us realize that we only have a week left here in China. We need to be in the moment and be grateful for our precious time spent all the way across the world, in a completely different country and culture.