Before heading to Nanjing, our cohort had a PDO, or Pre-Departure Orientation for two days in Washington, D.C.

These two days were intense. It felt like I was being thrust upon and chained to a horse that was galloping, farther and farther, faster and faster from any sense of familiarity that I hold close to me.

And I’ve loved every moment of it.

I have been surrounded from teenagers from all around the country and even the world: places like Arizona, Massachusetts, Colorado, and even Japan! Every race, political affiliation, sexual orientation, and more – never have I seen such a diverse group of people than here at PDO.

Let’s start with my roommate – almost immediately, we discovered that we fell on opposite sides of the political spectrum. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t intimidated at first, but we actually were able to have incredibly open and respectful conversations and learn from each other in the coming hours. This was one of the most eye opening experiences that allowed me to broaden my perspective and understand a different point of view.

And the fun part – 南京家庭 (Nanjing Family). Our cohort truly is a family; the first time that we had met, we were just all crowded together in the hotel room getting to know each other, and by the next day, we were all comfortable enough to just spend time snuggling together in a giant cuddle puddle. These people are wonderfully bright, loud, and enthusiastic, and it was really funny to see how all of the other cohorts had their own personalities as well. Suzhou’s group tended to be more reserved, while the Xi’an group was very laid back.

And now we’re off to Nanjing! See you there. 🙂


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