Every November, a group of freshmen in the Humanities 1 in Action course head to 2 orphanages in Foshan, China for 3 days. It’s considered a highlight of the course, presenting students with the jarring reality and consequences of the now terminated One Child Policy. However, after coming back from the trip, some students are left saying, “Really? That’s it?”
There seems to be two opposing sides in student opinion: the 2019 Foshan trip was either amazing and memorable or overrated and uncomfortable.
The first question I asked was why they did or didn’t enjoy the trip. One student said, “It was a fun and heartwarming experience. I built memorable connections with some kids, and seeing their enthusiasm and felt like a present more than an obligation.”
Alexa Barnett (9) fondly recalled holding an abandoned baby: “It was such a wholesome moment. Picking her up was almost scary because she seemed so fragile.”
On the other hand, another student felt that there wasn’t enough time to build solid connections. “We should have visited more than 2 orphanages. If we’re there for such a short time, we might as well see as many kids as possible.”
When I asked Eddie Howell (9) if he had any memorable stories, he laughed uncomfortably and said, “I didn’t enjoy picking up the kids. I remember that when I was hanging out with a 10-year-old kid at the orphanage, he kept motioning me to pick him up. Scared that either he would start fussing, or a teacher would get mad at me, I attempted to pick him up. It was just an awkward experience because I had purposefully chosen to play with an older kid to avoid having to pick anyone up.”
Though some students feel that the effectiveness of the trip is debatable, every student agreed that the trip is a learning experience. “I did see how the policy favored and discriminated against girls or kids with different abilities. It was an eye-opening, and heartfelt experience,” Eddie said. “ I just wish I could skip all the awkward bits.”