“Our experiences define who we are.”
It is only now, after having gone through six weeks in China as part of Xavier School’s Xavier China Experience (XCE) Beijing program, that I find this adage to be of real significance and truth. Going through XCE Beijing, I realized that the XCE was, in fact, more than just an experience to me: the XCE had become a part of who I was and who I would be, forever. From riding the subways and buses, to eating traditional Chinese food and street food, desperate attempts at communicating in Mandarin, traveling to key historical locations, and meeting influential people who matter in the grand scheme, each individual experience in the XCE coalesced to ultimately form the highlight of my high school life.
Memories of daily life as an XCE participant still linger fresh in my head. Everything we did—the dreaded commutes during explorations, shopping at Beijing’s sprawling malls and eating away at street food such as the yángròu (lamb meat) and even snapping pictures of just about everything for the sake of remembrance, among others—gave me the opportunity to gain deeper insights about China. All of these things are what I believe to be the most effective means to discover the very essence of a nation and its culture, which is, aside from self-development, the goal of the XCE program. Instead of learning about China and even about the world just in a closed room, the XCE allowed us to have the whole of China as our classroom. Through this, each and every experience in the XCE was transformed into moments of critical learning, moments that were as engaging and important as educational.
In retrospect, everything that transpired in the XCE would have been left without much significance if not for the unique and meaningful curriculum of XCE Beijing. The curriculum of XCE Beijing was this, in the sense that it paired all the explorations and events with discussions in the fields of Business Management and Marketing, Sustainability in the 21st Century, Managing Societal and Cultural Change and Global and Local Citizenship, effectively giving a deeper meaning to each and every occurrence.
Aside from XCE Beijing’s curriculum, the mentors of XCE Beijing also played a key role in infusing a sense of deeper meaning and profound learning in the six weeks my batch mates and I stayed in Beijing. No matter what went wrong or right, the mentors of XCE Beijing were always there for us, ready to guide us and make the XCE the best and most memorable experience of our lives. From the times they would wake us up or wait for us because we overslept, spend their nights preparing for their lectures, accompany us out for whatever shallow or important reason despite their hectic schedule, and amaze us with their inspirational and truly relevant discussions, the mentors of XCE Beijing were, are, and always will be the backbone of the XCE program.
Honestly, I did not really know what to expect from the XCE mentors. As a student who had always seen teachers as just that person you see in class, I felt that I would never be able to develop close bonds with my mentors in XCE. However, after spending six great weeks with them, I can wholeheartedly admit that they, being exceptionally fun, understanding and intelligent people, are people who inspired positive change within me, and without a doubt, my fellow participants. Aside from the XCE mentors, I have been fortunate enough to meet really incredible people in the sense that they have the capability to gain every single ounce of your respect and trust such that learning, both in and out the classroom, becomes something very enjoyable yet meaningful.
Truly, the XCE was successful for me not just because I was able to see both China and its society from a clear yet definitely educated stance, but also because I was able to discover and develop myself as an avid student of life. More than just a Xaverian’s experience in China, the XCE was, to me, the experience to experience, a distinct experience that imbibed in me the importance of transforming each encounter into moments of learning.
Of all my learnings, my most significant takeaway from the XCE is my profound realization that the happenings that surround our lives will remain mere happenings unless we choose to recognize their relevance in our lives. I, personally, have chosen to see the XCE as a turning point in my life, a once-in-a-lifetime chance that will forever remain etched into my being.