The first day of this trip consisted mainly of travelling...a lot of travelling. We flew from Shanghai to Beijing, caught a quick connection and headed off for the Washington Dulles International Airport. Luckily, all of the flights were on time and the journey was fairly smooth. We arrived to some great weather and were pleasantly greeted by the chauffeur who drove us to our hotel. At the hotel we had some time to freshen up after the long journey and got ready for the first part of our experience here at the GYLC.
We were swiftly registered into the program and were each assigned an LGM (Leadership Group Meeting) country, which consisted of other students from all around the world. We had the pleasure of meeting many of these people at the dinner later that night, and started making friends with them- I was surprised at how extrovert the other delegates were and how easily we engaged in discussions about the world and many of it’s issues.
It was a magnificent first day, and I look forward to the activities and experiences that lie ahead, starting with the trip to the Capitol tomorrow afternoon.
By Emiliano d'Angio
After a satisfying 6-hour sleep at the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel, we were all prepped and ready for the exciting activities in Day 2.
We started off by exploring different aspects in cross culture communication, and by asking ourselves "What exactly is culture?" We discussed our thoughts on stereotypes, and shared many different ones we have heard in our own countries.
This was followed by a truly thought provoking speech by Dr. Gary Weaver, a professor specialised in International Relations. He distinguished the difference between "generalisation" and "stereotypes", how they are very different in terms of the amount of people they include. He also shared the "Iceberg Analogy". This explains that culture consists of not only what can be seen (above surface), including behavior and believes, but also what is hidden underneath, including values and thought patterns. He concluded by explaining how society is divided by the principles of TO DO, or TO BE. The TO BE class often engages in non-verbal communication, such as hand gestures and body language. We often communicate without actually knowing about it. I personally found it very interesting, and it made me question about the differences between me and the people around me, from all the different parts of the world.
We went off-site to visit famous memorials in the afternoon, including The National WWII Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Women's Memorial, Lincoln Memorial and Korean War Veterans Memorial. This reminded us of the enormous human cost of war, and was especially touching as flowers dedicated to lost Fathers from Father's Day can be seen leaning against the walls.
After dinner and some free time at the Pentagon City Mall, we returned to the hotel for a speech by Ms Karen Johnson, a former UN diplomat. She informed us about the workings of the United Nations, including the specialised agencies that most of us were unaware of. She shared with us a DIME acronym, which stands for diplomat, information, military and economy. This is useful in interpreting the actions a country takes for its own interest. We also learnt about the importance to listen, to seek to understand other people's perspectives before forming a judgment immediately.
In conclusion, I personally found today very insightful and I feel like I have opened myself to a global perspective. The speakers were experienced and we are fortunate to have listened to their informative and insightful talks.
By Ashley Fung