Interim Term - Jan. 4-13, 2017

2017 Photo Slideshow

Interim Term, held for two weeks at the beginning of each January, provides underclassmen at EHS a unique opportunity to add depth and value to their high school experience through the inquiry of diverse topics unavailable during the regular curriculum. These courses encourage students to explore personal interests or dive into new areas of study with topics such as 3D Printing, the Art of Graffiti, and A History of Rock, Lego Robotics, Macro Photography, and Intro to Phone Apps.

In addition to these courses, the Interim Term Grade Level Learning (GLL) classes educate students in areas that will lead them to greater success in high school and beyond. Freshmen take courses such as Communication and Online Etiquette; sophomores focus on the Choices program with courses on Stress Management and Decision Making; and juniors enjoy in-depth presentations from College Counseling on Essay Writing and Test Taking Strategies.

Each day during Interim Term, the students participate in Community Time, where they break off in Blue or White groups each day for team-building exercises and a little fun competition with fellow Advisory groups.

This year, besides the abundant offerings on campus, four travel experiences are featured: Theatre Tour of Texas; Close Up in Washington, DC; Cultural Immersion in China, and the Everglades Eco-Course.

2017 Interim Term Courses

1. Advanced Baseball Statistics: The Game within the Game/John Drexel & Matt Fox

We will take a non-traditional approach to evaluating a player’s overall worth as a baseball player.Using Major League Baseball, this class will discuss the development of modern theories, various data sets, publications, and research methods commonly used in the sabermetric industry.Topics include:game strategy, park factors, DIPS theory, MLB’s economic system, clutch hitting, and the MLB Draft.Students will draft their own team and learn to most accurately assess the most valuable players to ever play the game.

2. Ancient Myth, Modern Interpretation/Danielle Ranneft

Myths in ancient times were used to explain the origin of the world, the seasons, lessons of life, and even wars involving gods, goddesses and heroes. These myths have captured the minds and imaginations of generations of writers, artists, musicians and filmmakers. Explore some of the most powerful myths and appreciate modern interpretations of them. Write a poem or short story, paint or sculpt a work inspired by a favorite myth.

3.Behind the Scene of Stranger Things: Mind Control, MKUltra and the CIA/Emma Lyders

What is truth and what is fiction in the popular Netflix series, Stranger Things? Explore the history of Project MKUltra and the Central Intelligence Agency. Consider questions of ethics encountered in national security, and various experiments the CIA performed in the interest of protection. We will also discuss storywriting and storytelling and how to develop story based on history. After you’ve learned more about the background behind the show, you’ll write a scene of your own.

4. Burn After the Reading: The Secrets of Codes/Stephanie Gloor

This course will explore the different types of ciphers and how they were used throughout history.Students will learn how to encrypt/decrypt messages using the Atbash cipher, the Cesar Shift, the Pigpen/Masonic cipher, the Polybuis Square, the Vigenere cipher, the Playfair cipher, the Columnar Transposition cipher, and book ciphers.

5. The Chronicles of Narnia: Lessons from the Lion/Rev. Beth Holden

Enter the world of Narnia, meet a fearsome lion, battle a white witch, and discover Christian theology. As we explore C.S. Lewis’ classic, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, we’ll have tea with Tumnus, cook up some Turkish Delight candy, create our own armor, have a mock battle for Narnia, and view movie clips from the Disney version of the book.

6.Composing Music with Garage Band/Charles Estes

An introductory course in composing and editing music in a computer based environment.In this course you will learn hoe to create and edit music using Garageband and other software.Lessons will include audio recording, using virtual instruments, audio effects, and music sequencing.

7. Cryptozoology, UFOlogy, and the Paranormal: I Want to Believe/David Framel

In the world of Cryptozoology, UFOlogy, and the Paranormal, photographic and video evidence of the existence of unknown creatures, “lights in the sky,” and ghostly images is compelling, but is it all a complete hoax? The class is designed to evaluate a history of stills and videos and discuss their credibility, while students analyze methods of photofakery and ultimately create believable forgeries that rival what is out there, using computer graphics, Adobe Photoshop software, and iMovie.

8. EHS Project Runway: History, Design, and the Fashion Industry/Beverly Rutledge & Hillary Houle

Do you have a passion for fashion? Join us and learn about the history of fashion and how current designers are reinterpreting design. We’ll discuss basic sewing and construction terms, and then develop a collection based on your story. Finally, you’ll create one of your designs to wear on the EHS Runway.

9. Food Science/Krista Holter & Cade Slepitza

Food Science is the study of producing, processing, preparing, evaluating, and using food. The field crosses many branches of science including Biology, Botany, Physiology, Zoology, and Bacteriology.Students will conduct laboratory investigations, use scientific methods and make informed decisions using critical thinking and problem solving.Students will study a variety of topics including the following:Nutrition, metabolism and energy transfer in living organisms, homeostasis, food additives, food safety, and food preparation.

10. For Those About to Rock... A History of Rock/Alice Berry

"What’s your favorite band? Who are that group’s favorite artists? Who influenced them? What influenced them? Would you like to be able to talk knowledgeably with your favorite musicians about their biggest influences? We explore the beginnings of rock (blues, jazz, and country), follow it through the major periods of popular music, and end up with a better understanding of your favorite bands today.”

11.Glass Fusing/David Trauba

A fundamental course into the world of glass fusing. Students will learn to safely and properly create glass pieces using various techniques of forming and firing.

12.Hollywood ate My Novel: Film Adaptions/Courtney Arnold & Nina Brocavich

“OMG, they made it into a movie?! I loved that book! Oh, but why did they change so much- the movie is so different from the book!”Have you ever wondered why movie adaptations of novels deviate from the text so much?Have you ever been disappointed in those changes?Or preferred the changes?In this course we will compare and contrast many of today’s most popular film adaptations – but don’t worry, if we haven’t already thought of some of your favorites, we welcome your suggestions!

13. Intermediate 3-D Printing/David Langford

We’ll have fun designing really cool things to print from our 3D printers. Using the Idea Lab to give shape to our ideas, we’ll create the print files with a 3D Scanner or with a CAD program will be the first step.Then we’ll refine our designs with each printing. We’ll print with different plastics, and metals. The process will be challenging and fun.Best of all, you can keep whatever you make. *Sophomores and Juniors only*

14. The Irresistible Allure of Illusions/Alan Bradshaw

We love the idea of magic because it makes what was previously believed to be impossible, possible, in a matter of seconds.The real life performance of magic gives us the pleasure of seeing what we think we know about the world being proven untrue and, even if we know it is a trick, we are delighted at the results.This course will seek to explain the history and cultural importance of magic in the United States.Students will learn-hands on!- how magic tricks are created, the importance of practice and the value of social psychology.

15. Intro to Dance/Frank Vega

Even the Impact Dancers and Fred Astaire had to start somewhere, and you can start in this dance class for complete beginners, even if you think you have two left feet. Learn ballet, jazz, and tap, as well as some history of the art and discipline of dance.Dance to classical, pop and hip-hop music, just to name a few styles. You'll even help choreograph a final piece.

16. Introduction to Computer Languages and Mobile Phone Apps/Alan Duncan

This course is an introduction to mobile phone application development.It is meant to introduce students to Open Source programming, help students understand how mobile device applications are created, governed by Google and Apple, and developed by individuals.

There will also be an introduction to programming languages C++, Java, and Python for those interested.

At the conclusion of the course, students should be able to install the development tools needed to create mobile applications and popular high-level languages, build a simple mobile application, and distribute an application as a test application.

17.Intro to Podcasting/Kerry Hofmeister

No matter what your favorite topic is you can dig deeper into it in this class.Throughout IT you will become an expect in the growing media format of podcasting.You will write, record, and edit a full length podcast episode on the topic of your choice solo or with a partner.During this class you can explore your passion while learning new technical skills.

18.Japanese Culture through the Lens: Kurosawa and post-war Japan/Evan Chastain

Akira Kurosawa created some of the most influential films of all time, with directors such as Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, George Lucas, and Francis Ford Coppola citing him as an influence. Yet at their core, Kurosawa’s films express the fears and desires of a Japanese culture reeling from the devastation of World War II and attempting to forge a new identity in a changing world.We will look to understand and experience Japanese culture through the lens of Kurosawa’s films and historical reference.

19. Lego Robotics/Michael Hunt

Interested in robotics or think you might be? Why not take this course to explore the possibilities? You’ll have fun unlocking your imagination, practicing creative problem-solving, and exploring the world of building and programming robots. You’ll construct robots out of LEGOs and teach them to meet a variety of physical challenges.

20.Love is Hilarious: Modern Day Romance in Film and Literature/Bob Matthews

Ice Cream? A blanket? Tears at a predictable ending? If this setting feels familiar, come examine the Romantic Comedy through an intelligent and critical lens. We will identify the traditional structure of the modern romantic comedy, look back at some of Hollywood’s most memorable offerings in the genre, identify the modern classics, and find out exactly how Greek and Elizabethan Theatre birthed the movies that people love to cuddle up with today. With all of this new knowledge, each student will write an outline and do a fantasy casting of their very own romantic comedy.

21. Macro Photography/Kate Philbrick & Amy Gready

Ever wanted to take a picture of teeny tiny things--like the nose of Lincoln on the face side of a penny or the eye of a dragonfly? You don’t need a special lens or camera to take those pictures in this class! We will use everyday objects like a Pringles can and duct tape to make compelling photographs of miniature objects in an effort to see the world from a completely different perspective.

22.Man Up! The Psychology and Culture of Being a Man in Modern Society/Dan Binder

What does it mean to be a man? In today’s increasingly diverse and gender-neutral society, men and boys are more confused than ever about their roles, their behaviors, and what it means to be an honorable, well-rounded man.In this class, we’ll dig beneath the stereotypes of “chicks, cars, and muscles” to explore deeper understanding of what it means to ‘man-up’!

23. Media & Song in World War II / Ray Balch

In this interim course, we will explore how these functions were effectively implemented by watching and analyzing films, documentaries, cartoons, etc., made during WWII as well as listening to songs popular during the Second World War. We will also watch a relatively recent movie or two and contrast their portrayal of America’s involvement in World War II.

24.Model UN/Ray Balch

Students who are registered members of the EHS Model United Nations Club will use this course to prepare for the upcoming Houston-Area Model UN conference in February. Students will use class time to prepare position papers for their assigned country/committee.

25. Money, Money, Money!/Wade Summa

Don’t be intimidated by finance! Learn how to invest, save and manage your money, putting it to work for you. Learn about the history of US currency the stock market, credit cards, auto/college loans, investments, savings accounts, etc. In a low-key, relaxed environment, you’ll learn everything you need to know to handle your business, save for the future, and make the most of your money!

26. Musical Theatre: Pure Americana/Garmon Ashby & Kristina Burgess

A complementary course to the Theatre Tour the first week of IT.Students in this class would be required to sing, dance, and act sections of the Spring Musical Lucky Stiff while also learning the history of the American Musical Theatre.This is a required course for all students cast in the musical as well as the students traveling with the touring production of The Women of Lockerbie

27. Not Just Pocahontas: Exploring Native American Culture/Mary Newton

Native American cultures existed very early in the Southwest and are a part of our heritage.We will study Native Americans of the Southwestthrough music, film, poetry, stories,and myth.We will make art: a print of an Indian design, a dream catcher, a sand painting, and/or a beaded pouch used for carrying seeds, small tools, or good-luck charms. We will visit the John P. McGovern Hall of the Americas at the Museum of Natural Science and have a nature walk or visit the butterfly collection. We will try our hand at making fry bread.

28. Politics of the Olympics/Travis Smith

Terrorism, racism, nationalism boycotts, corruption, women’s rights, and a host of other global issues have colored, tainted, and helped shape the Modern Olympic games.Students will explore how sport serves as a backdrop to global issues and how these battles were not waged in a court room or on a battle field, but on the field of play.

29. Requiems and Rituals: Exploring Sacred Passing in World Cultures/Brad Telford

Students in this course will creatively investigate how different cultures prepare and grieve their Departed.From the Episcopal Church’s Rites for the Burial of the Dead to the Zoroastrian’s Tower of Silence, from cremations along The Ganges to the practice of Famadihana in Madagascar (which involves costume changes, of all things!) students in R & R will engage creatively, intellectually, physically, and spiritually in the tender rituals of honoring and memorializing loved ones.

30. The Rhetoric of the NFL: Communications and Media/Jessica Adams

Ever wonder what it would be like to work for the NFL? Could you tactfully handle the press? Set rules and dole out consequences? Understand the complexities of cap space and build a successful roster? Stop playing fantasy- experience the NFL through the eyes of the experts!

31. Rise of Superheroes and their Impact on Pop Culture/Ashley Saunders

From Superman and Spider-Man, to the Avengers and the Hulk.We will explore the rise of superheroes and how they have evolved and impacted culture.

32. Social Entrepreneurship: Business is Dog HELP Dog/Mark Raggett

Since TOMS exploded onto the scene there have been a growing number businesses specifically designed to do good in the world. This course will study the history of social entrepreneurship, and the different models followed by these fascinating new hybrids of business and charity. We will get to hear from local social entrepreneurs (Erica Raggett of A 2nd Cup and Jeff Kaplan of New Living) who are doing business in new and creative ways. The culminating project will involve writing and presenting a business plan for your own social entrepreneurial endeavor.

33. South American Food and Culture – Brazil and Argentina/Amalia Pflaumer & Bill Warren

Do you love the movie Rio and wish you could visit Brazil?Does the thought of visiting an Argentine steak house make your mouth water?This course will offer you the chance to sample the food, language, and culture of these two unique South American countries right from the comfort of your desks here at EHS.Join us to explore the diverse society, geography, music, festivals, etc., of Brazil and Argentina.

34. Taking the EW out of SEWing/ Katheryn Ray & Anne Riley

Have you ever watched Project Runway and wished you had the sewing skills of Christian Siriano rather than Heidi Klum? Have you ever been stranded on a deserted island and needed to hem the length of your skirt? Is redecorating your room on a budget all you can dream about? If so, this is the IT course for you! Your perspective on sewing will go from “EW!” to “Cool!” At the end of IT, you will have various projects including pajama shorts, an apron, and a composition book cover!

35. Tantalizing Tessellations: The Art of Mathematics/Joanna Papakonstantinou & Jaime Collier

Come create mathematics as you create art. The relationship between mathematics and art is seen all around us in patterns, symmetry, sculpture and architecture. You will investigate the geometry and the art in tessellations. After you learn how to tessellate a plane with different geometric figures, you will create your own unique tessellation and make a fabric of the pattern. You will also learn how to use Photoshop, Cyanotypes, and digital printing with photography.

36.Visions of the Future/John Flanagan

Visions of the Future focuses on science fiction and facts in man's attempt to predict the future.The primary goal will be for student groups to present their own vision of the future, in words, art and possibly performance.Daily programs will include discussions, movies, short stories, project work, futuristic games and activities.

37. The Wonderful World of Disney/Eric Lerch

For all those Peter Pans who refuse to grow up, let’s go get Tangled with Alice in Wonderland as we explore the magical world of Disney. We will go to Infinity and Beyond as we study the Walt Disney Corporation, including its history (like the Rescuers who saved it from bankruptcy), its business model (how it makes more money than Scrooge McDuck), and its relationship to culture (like what the differences between Snow White and Mulan tell us about ourselves).Beauties and Beasts, Dwarves and Dalmatians are all welcome to join.It will be pure Fantasia as we go Under the Sea with the Little Mermaid and Up in the sky with Aladdin on a flying carpet.Don’t be a Sleeping Beauty or get Frozen and miss this opportunity. Be Brave and sign up for “The Wonderful World of Disney!”

38. Yo Ho Ho, A Pirate's Life for Me: A History of Pirates/Jennifer Succi & Krystal Irven

“Yo ho, yo ho, A pirate’s life for me.” Learn about Blackbeard, Barbarossa, William Kidd, Stede Bonnet, Anne Bonny and more! We will explore the facts vs. fiction behind treasures found and lost by the legendary pirates. We will dive into the history of pirates including modern pirates. Come join our interactive class through movies, books, flags, maps and a scavenger hunt!

39. Yoga/Leigh Anne Raymond

Is your life stressful?Yoga can help!Students will study the practice of yoga, including the first series of moves and inversions.Students will be taught how to incorporate different meditative practices into their daily routines to promote relaxation and well being.

2017 Interim Term Trips

40.China Trip/Eric Avera, Alice Davidson, Kate Liang

Please choose this class ONLY if you have been informed by Ms. Davidson that you have been accepted for this trip.

41. Close Up/Kary Kemble, Shelly Edmonds

DC Metro - Close Up trip participants will learn the “ins and outs” of traveling in our nation’s capital—how to navigate the subway system, how to dress for the climate, a little history of the places they will visit—in preparation for the Close Up Washington trip the following week.We The People - This course, which is open only to Close Up Washington trip participants, offers students the chance to gain a good understanding of the basics of US government before visiting the capital city.Mini-lessons include discussions of the US Constitution, the purpose of politics, the roles of politicians in the federal government, etc.

42. Theatre Tour 2017: Remember the Alamo/Jay Berckley, George Brock, Katherine Hawkins, Paul Revaz,

Students will perform The Women of Lockerbie in San Antonio.While on this trip we will take in some Texas History including stops at Washington on Brazos, The Alamo and Goliad.

43. Science and Snorkeling in The Sunshine Sate/ Erin Russe, Derek Sanders

Students will explore various topics from marine biology and environmental science in the Florida Everglades and Florida Keys. Students will be snorkeling in three different aquatic environments:an aquifer, a river, and a reef. Students will swim with manatees and dolphins and participate in manatee and dolphin conservation, protection, and education. Students will observe the Florida Everglades up close (in an airboat ride) to witness this very fragile and essential ecosystem, and learn the importance of protecting these wetlands.

IT Trips Photos & Blogs

Knights in China - Day 11

Today we woke up around 8:15 a.m. which is pretty much sleeping in considering we normally wake up at 6:00 a.m. We ate breakfast and brought all our luggage down the stairs to the lobby because we were flying to Beijing later that day and needed to put our luggage under the bus. We loaded our suitcases and left for the tea farm. We drove about an hour and a half to get there. We arrived at the tea farm around 11:00 a.m. and put on tea picking hats! There are only six types of tea in the world. A few are green tea, white tea, yellow tea. Many green teas are flavored, like jasmine or osmanthus, but it's still green tea. In ancient times the white tea was only for the emperor because they only pick it once a year and it is the best quality. The white tea is also the most expensive. The more leaves in the tea sprout the lower the quality, so ideally tea has no leaves and is only the sprout. White tea has no leaves. All the other tea has one or more leaves. We learned how tea is processed, and then got to try 3 different types of tea. The first tea was the High Mountain Yellow tea which is good for sleeping. The second tea was the Osmanthus tea, which is good for your skin. The last tea we tried was the compressed tea which was good for your lungs and breathing. To show your thanks for the people pouring the tea you tap your fingers on the table 3 times. Using one finger meant you were single, two fingers meant you were married, 3 fingers meant you were married but available, and 5 fingers meant that your status was a secret. We then got to go buy the tea we liked and many different other teas. After the tea farm we headed to the airport. It took about an hour to get there and after checking in we ate a good lunch in the airport. We boarded the plane and it was about a 3-hour plane ride. We got back to our hotel in Beijing around 9:30 p.m. We are sad to leave but excited about getting home to see our families and friends.

--Kate and Emeline

Knights in China - Day 10

We started our day off with a 7:00 a.m. wake-up call. Then we ate breakfast downstairs in our hotel, it was delicious. The hotel is so cool with open balconies that show the magnificent view of the mountains and the Dragon River. After breakfast, we took a 45-minute bus ride to the Li River where we rode on bamboo rafts. The drive there showed off Yangshuo's beautiful countryside. When we arrived at the site we were handed rain ponchos because it was pouring rain. We looked great in our four layers, big jackets, and brightly colored rain ponchos! To get to the river, we took golf carts through Xing Ping village. On the way there, I got sprayed with water from a car, and my jeans were soaking wet. Once we got off the golf cart and entered into the gates of the rafting site, Margaret slipped and fell on the slippery stairs. she wasn't hurt, and it was hilarious! Shortly after, we got on a 4-passenger raft. Although it was very cold, the views of the magnificent mountains and clear water made up for it! The Li River is famous for its scenery and is shown on the back of the Chinese 20 RMB bill. It is also featured in many Chinese paintings where the mist surrounds the mountains. We got to experience that view today. The river is also famous for cormorant fishermen. The fishermen have cormorant birds attached to their raft with a long cord. They put rings around the birds' necks so they can't swallow the fish they catch. The cormorant puts the fish in a basket attached to the raft. After we got off the rafts, we were all soaking wet, but happy because we got to see the famous views. For lunch we ate at a small restaurant called the Warm Cafe. They had great food which consisted of rice, chicken, peas, broccoli, and fried eggplant. Once we finished lunch, we headed to a painting lesson by Master Zeng Song. The lesson took place at the ancient courtyard home of a very famous old painter. During the lesson, the master taught us how to draw pandas and a landscape with a setting much like the Li River. We used different colors of ink to paint our pictures. On the way out, we noticed some of the pictures on the wall were from students from last year's EHS China interim term trip. It was really cool! Then, the bus driver took us to a tai chi lesson at Yangshuo Traditional Tai Chi School. There, we took a lesson from another master. He taught us both self defense and tai chi exercise movements. After we learned all of the new techniques, he showed some of his own skills. It was a brilliant performance! Overall, it was such a fun day! For dinner we at a hotel next door and had sweet potato, green beans, chicken, beef, and fruit. Then it was time for bed!

--Isabel and Taylor

Knights in China - Day 9

We started off the day with a 7:00 a.m. wake-up. When we woke up we were in Guilin, which is known as the most beautiful city in China. It is a small city with roughly 700,000 people. Tourism is the number-one industry in Guilin, with 30 percent of the population being affiliated with it. Guilin is warmer than other cities we have visited because it is close to the Tropic of Cancer. It gets roughly six feet of rain per year. They Karst mountains are made of limestone. They are unlike any mountains in America because they are very tall and thin. From Guilin we transferred to Yangzhou, a small farming village about an hour and a half drive from Guilin. Upon arrival in Yangzhou, we checked into our hotel and took a quick nap. The view from our hotel room is unlike any other that we have had on the trip, we look directly out to mountains. No buildings or cars in sight. We headed to West Street and ate at a traditional local noodle shop. Much of the seating was outdoors. After lunch we had one hour to explore West Street. The next activity planned was to visit Yangzhou Middle School. When we arrived we got a quick tour of the school before congregating in a classroom with students who attended the school. Many of the student were seniors and were preparing to take the Gao Kao. This is a test that would determine where they would attend university. Unlike in America where we can take the SAT or the ACT multiple times, the students in China only have one shot a year to take the test and get the highest score. Only two students from each city that have the top scores are chosen to attend a major university, such as Beijing University. So right now many of the seniors that we met are studying vigorously for the exam. In the classroom, EHS and Yangzhou Middle School joined together in games, sharing lessons, and performing for each other. They sang for us in English as well as in Chinese. We sang a popular song from chapel, Laudate Dominum, with Mr. Avera (aka Baevera). Ms. Davidson taught the students about the Comanche Indians Cynthia Ann Parker and Chief Quannah. We also had an exchanging of gifts. EHS presented the school with a friendship trophy, a college dictionary, the 2016 yearbook, and a US history book. Yangzhou Middle School presented us with pictures of Guilin and a DVD of their school. After the lessons and performance we had a chance to talk to some of the students and get to know them. It was definitely an experience of a lifetime. Even though some of the student spoke English well, it was still hard to communicate with one another because English was not their first language. The students from each school also had a chance to exchange gifts individually after getting to know one another. The overall experience being at the school was fun and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Many of the students exchanged Wechat information so that they could stay in touch. Today was a little different because it was Bryce's 16th birthday. At dinner, we sang happy birthday to her and ate a traditional Chinese birthday cake. Overall, it was a good first day in Yangzhou.

--Daryn and Isabelle

Knights in China - Day 8

This morning after Macy and I actually managed to wake up on time (yesterday day we overslept and only had 4 minutes to get ready) we went down to breakfast where we ate a combination of Western and traditional Chinese food. The first item on today's itinerary was a Muslim mosque. On the way there our tour guide, Lisa, told us about the different Chinese ethnic groups, which was really interesting. 92% of the population is Han Chinese and within the 8% that is not there are more than 55 recognized ethnic minorities such as Mongol and Manchurian, which is what Lisa is. When we got to the mosque we were both very surprised that it did not look like a typical mosque. We then learned that this was because after Persian traders traveled to Xi'an through the silk roads they liked Chinese culture so much they decided to stay and marry Chinese girls. Eventually the Persian community in Xi'an was very wealthy but did not have a very high social standing, so they decided to build a grand mosque in the traditional Chinese style and invite the emperor to come visit. It was really cool to stand in the same spot that an emperor had stood hundreds of years ago. After this we got to go see a room where the people used to smoke opium. Ms. Davidson explained the Opium War between the Chinese and the British to us. Ellie and I are total history nerds so we ate it all up. It started when the British were selling Opium in China and making a lot of money off of it. This made the Chinese angry because many people started to become addicted to it and stopped doing their jobs. Therefore, the lack of farmers caused many people to suffer from starvation. As we were learning all of this an old man came up to us with his camera phone and tried to take pictures of us by putting it right up in our faces. Mrs. Davidson had to shoo him off but he continued to take pictures from afar, so that was pretty weird. After the mosque we got to walk around the Muslim market and then we had to go back to the hotel to check out so we would be ready to leave for Guilin. Then we went to lunch and ate these really delicious Chinese butter pancakes for dessert. After lunch we went to a mausoleum where a Han dynasty emperor was entombed. When we first got there we each got to put on a traditional Han dress that the women used to wear. We learned how to do different Han greetings that show respect. After this we went into the museum portion. Here we saw many of the artifacts that were found inside the tomb. We saw iron pots, stone carvings of animals, and sets of gold plates. We also saw the world's oldest tea leaf! Next we went into the actual tomb, which was under ground. It was really dark, so as to preserve the artifacts inside. It was cool to get to see the many things that they would bury with the emperor. We left here for the airport to catch our flight to Guilin. On the bus ride Ms. Davidson informed us that our tour guide, Lisa, had heard that we were all craving American food and had ordered us a KFC dinner to be delivered to the airport! We were all very grateful, as we understood the difficult process that they both had to go through to get this. When we got to the airport we checked our bags and ate our dinner. We later boarded the plane and took our seats. Then suddenly Isabel Young starts screaming. She tells us that as she was sitting down in her seat she discovered that there was throw-up on her seat belt! Margaret, who was sitting next to her, was laughing so hard she was crying. They informed the flight attendant and both got to move seats. We got to Guilin and were very thankful that it was much warmer that Xi'an, but it was so late we didn't see anything of the town!

--Ellie and Macy

Knights in China - Day 7

This morning, Lauren and I woke up and went down to breakfast where we had banana bread, bacon, French toast, along with other Western-style foods. Due to our exhaustion we got up an hour and 20 minutes late causing us to rush to breakfast, but luckily Ellie and Macy woke up even later. After breakfast, we rode on the bus for 30 minutes to the Terracotta Warrior factory. Here, we learned how they made different terracotta replicas, and we were able to buy different souvenirs, including mini terracotta warriors. Isabelle even bought a life-sized terracotta warrior! Next, we went to the terracotta warrior museum where we saw three different pits. Each pit, the size of a football field, housed thousands of terracotta warriors. The pits showcased many different warriors including ones that have been rebuilt, some that were still destroyed, and areas where the warriors have yet to be excavated. At the museum, we also saw two bronze chariots that were built more than 2,000 years ago. We had a semi-buffet style lunch at the museum. After lunch, we drove past what is thought to be Qin Shi Huang's tomb. At the Wild Goose Pagoda Temple we walked around and were fortunate enough to witness monks chanting their evening prayers. Our guide, Lisa, was able, at the last minute, to set up a calligraphy lesson with a master calligrapher. The master offered to write our Chinese names in calligraphy for 50 yuan and many of us took him up on that offer. After our calligraphy lesson, we made an impromptu stop at Starbucks, and some people went to Haagen Dazs. It was dark out and our drive to dinner was gorgeous. The whole city is decked out with lights in preparation for Chinese new year. At the restaurant before dinner we were taught how to make dumplings and stretch noodles--it's not as easy as it looks! We had an amazing dumpling dinner banquet with various types of dumplings from pork, to shrimp, to mushrooms. They even had duck dumplings that were folded into the shape of ducks. We went to the hotel after dinner and now we are in Mrs. Davidson's room updating this blog, and people are already in bed sleeping, and its only 8:30 p.m. We are exhausted and having a blast.

--Lauren and Ashley

Knights in China - Day 6

We woke up at the Yunjincheng Folk Hotel around 6:45 a.m. to pack and eat breakfast. We had to be ready to go by 9:00 a.m. because we only stay in Pingyao for one night. At breakfast, we had the most savory toast and awesome smiley fries. After breakfast, we headed to the Ming Dynasty Court House which consisted of tax offices and courthouses. We entered through the right door because that is where regular people are allowed to walk through. The left door is meant for those who are given the punishment of execution, and the middle door is for the ceremonial events, officials, etc. The passageway led to the courthouse where we not only learned about the sticks the judge uses to give convictions (red for death and black for jail), but where we also enjoyed a short play. During this play, we learned that bribery was used for those who could afford it and who did not want to be hit as hard if the punishment was a beating. We then headed to the prison where those who were given a short sentence of 30-60 days were sent. Behind that was the execution methods display room where we learned more about the Death By 1,000 Cuts punishment and other methods of execution. After we left the court center we walked outside and on top of the City Wall. If people wanted to invade the city, the guard soldiers would lure the enemy into a gate with two sets of doors. Once the enemy had gotten through the first set, the doors would be closed behind them and they would be locked and trapped. Next, we made our way to the Temple of the City Deity. Here, we learned about the different Gods. We saw the temple of the Kitchen God, where many local farmers came to pray hoping for plentiful harvest. Then it was lunchtime and we had, of course, Chinese food. At the restaurant, we played with a cat. For lunch we were served a variety of meats and veggies, as usual, but all three tables had to share ONE coke, which was awful. After lunch we walked across the street to the Rishengchang Draft Bank, which was the first bank in China, opened in 1823. Before 1823, the bankers would have to transfer money by actually transporting silver ingots from city to city in boxes, which was very dangerous because of the threat of robbery. We were then given an hour of free time to roam the city of Pingyao. Just as we were leaving our hotel, we bumped into students from Kinkaid who had just arrived in Pingyao and were going to stay at the same hotel we were leaving. It got very crowded in the lobby. We were blocking their entrance and they were blocking our exit. Being a few minutes late, we were rushed to the golf carts, where we were then rushed to the itty, bitty, tiny, whiny bus. All 25 of us were squished in a 28-seater bus with suitcases going up and down the aisle, and more suitcases stuffed in the front three seats. While driving to the train station, many of us were talking about the Third World, which led to talk about first-world problems. After arriving at the train station an hour early, we waited around and then once again got rushed. When the train finally arrived, Chandler, Katy, and Josalyn were almost left behind because the people in front of them did not remember the 2-minute rule - the train stops for 2 minutes. Everyone has to get off and new passengers get on in 2 minutes total. They made a run for it and luckily they made it. Josalyn had a unique experience with the woman who sold snacks on the train. First Josalyn walked to the store to ask for a fork so she could share some of Katy's Ramen. She had no idea what Josalyn was talking about so she drew her a picture. The woman still didn't get it so Josalyn pointed at chopsticks. She understood, and gave Josalyn a spork. Then Katy and Josalyn walked to the store lady to buy ice cream. Josalyn had to ask for another spork because we were going to share the one-person ice cream. We walked back to our seats which were three train cars back, and after we sat down, Josalyn decided to buy another ice cream cup. So for a THIRD time, Josalyn went to the store lady. This time she knew exactly what Josalyn wanted. We arrived in Xian, had dinner, and checked in to our hotel at 9:30 p.m. ready for sleep.

--Katy and Josalyn

Knights in China - Day 5

This morning we woke up at 6:00, and packed our things to check out. We ate breakfast and hung out in the lobby, and then we boarded the bus. We then drove to the train station. The bus wasn't allowed to get too close to the station and the walk was treacherous because we had to drag our bags a block down the sidewalk, down the stairs, and all the way to the last train car. We ate the lunch that Leo packed us on the train. We had a big Ramen soup bowl, oranges, bananas, Chinese cookies, and Chinese waffles. It was almost everyone's first time on a bullet train, so we were excited. The train reached a top speed of 300km/hr. While passing through other cities on the train we had amazing views, and we saw snow multiple times. Once we reached our destination we only had two minutes exactly to get 22 girls and 3 teachers holding luggage off the train. Once off the train, we had to conquer another flight of stairs. While struggling down the stairs Caroline's luggage wheel broke, making the trip even more difficult. Then we walked to our bus, not knowing how small it really was. The bus was TINY, and underneath less than half of the luggage fit. We filled all the seats, and the aisle of the bus was filled 4-feet high with our luggage. We were packed like sardines, and it was extremely hot. There were only two tiny windows that opened. While driving to the hotel we looked out the windows at the buildings and scenery which was very different than Beijing. The city still has its wall from 600 years ago and this town is 2,700 years old. Initially we were not to thrilled about being in Pingyao until we got off the bus and investigated the city further. Once arriving at the 500-year-old courtyard home, which has been converted into a hotel, we were ecstatic about our stay. We immediately connected to the wifi finding that it was MUCH better then the wifi in Beijing. Our room was equipped with a mini fridge and free drinks inside. We had a strange encounter with a gang of cats on the roof of our hotel who were in heat, who decided to share that information with everyone by screaming and hissing. Then we walked around the city and were greeted by the Pingyao residents taking pictures of and with us. Then we ventured to the other side of town where we had a lesson in paper cutting by the master paper cutter of Pingyao. Many of us struggled, quickly discovering that it was a lot harder then it looks. On our walk back to the hotel, we discovered a churro store which was very unexpected. In good spirits, we sang the whole way back to the hotel with our new tour guide Yao. He taught us Chinese songs and we taught him some of our favorite American songs. People were videoing us and laughing at us. We then ate dinner at the hotel. We can't wait to do more exploring tomorrow!!!

--Chandler and Lindsey

Knights in China - Day 4

We woke up this morning at 7:00 a.m. This was our latest wake up call yet. We were very happy with Leo for giving us permission to sleep in! We ate really yummy banana bread and peanut butter for breakfast. It was super good and got us ready for the day! We dressed and got on the bus to head to the Daoist Temple. Anna put in her new black freshwater pearl earrings from Ling Ling's and when she took off her N95 mask it pulled out her earrings. It was very scary because she thought she had lost them for good. Ms. Davidson came to the rescue and called on the entire bus to search for the earrings until we found all the pieces. The Daoist Temple was built in 739 by the Tang Dynasty. After hundreds of years it was restored and parts rebuilt by the Ming Dynasty. There are many symbols in Daoism, one of them is the monkey. Three monkeys are carved into stones in the temple and you get good luck when you rub them, just like the golden knobs at the Forbidden City. Monkeys symbolize intelligence and flexibility in China. Next we went to the panda exhibit at the zoo. The pandas were super cute. There were three pandas--one slept, one ate a lot, and one sneezed and stared at us. We went to the panda shop and we bought some panda house shoes and miniature pandas. After the zoo, we had lunch at the 5th floor of a shopping mall. The mall looked a lot like a western mall. The restaurant had western potties! Yay!
The afternoon was spent at the Summer Palace. This palace was used by the emperor in summers when the Forbidden City grew too hot. We learned that the when one of the emperors died, his concubine, the dragon lady, Ci Xi, took the power. But because she was a woman, she couldn't actually rule, they needed a male on the throne. So Ci Xi selected her nephew to be the emperor. Then she selected her niece to be his wife--she married the cousins to each other. But they needed to have two separate beds because the boy felt uncomfortable. The emperor's bed was very long, which symbolized longevity. The nephew emperor did whatever Ci Xi told him to do, but soon he found a new concubine who he really loved and he stopped obeying the Dragon Lady. So the dragon lady decided to drown the concubine in a well because she felt like she was not being listened to. Ci Xi liked Beijing opera and built an opera theatre right by her bedroom. At one point, she watched the opera for 9 straight days. There was also a torch above her bed as a signal for whether she was asleep or not, and if anyone woke her up they were punished. She had large dinner parties with three tables. People at the first table only looked at the food and the second only smelled it. Only the 3rd table ate the food. If the dragon lady was upset by the food's flavor, then nobody ate and dinner was cancelled. She had a room just for people to cut fruit because she liked to smell the cut fruit. Ci Xi was almost unbelievable. We then walked down the Long Corridor to see the Marble Boat. We left the Summer Palace and headed for dinner. On the way, we stopped at the Olympic stadium, Bird's Nest, where the 2008 Olympics were held. Multiple Chinese ladies came up asking to take photos with us. Leo says it is because we are tall, have light eyes, and light hair. It was really cool though! We went to dinner in another mall. After dinner we had 20 minutes free time, and we found a yogurt place. We had to order it on our own and the man knew zero English so it was really hard to communicate, but we got the yogurt and it was so good and refreshing! We have not had dessert in so long! Typical Chinese meals don't have dessert, or they have a slice of fruit, so we have been missing dessert. Next we drove home on the bus and Leo arranged for those who wanted it to get massages. We are about to go get the massages, we are very excited! Leo says that we should say "Ching-Ching" to tell the ladies to massage us softly if it becomes too strong.
Having SO much fun!!! XOXO. LOVE CHINA!
--Anna and Abby

Knights in China - Day 3

This morning we went to the silk factory and they showed us how they got a string of silk from the cocoon that could be a mile long. IT TAKES 7 OF THESE STRINGS TO MAKE ONE THREAD. Then after that we all shopped in the silk factory and got silk pajamas, pillows and such. After that we went to Ling Ling's pearl shop and watched how they string the pearl necklaces. They do it pear by pearl, tying a knot after each one. Then we got a hour to shop and bargain with people in the mall. It was A LOT of fun. We all bought a bunch of fake bags and stuff. After that our bus dropped us off at some pedi-cab rickshaws that took us to a private home in a hutong. The woman who owns the house made us all a traditional Chinese meal. It was extremely good!! One of our favorite meals. The cookies at the end were to die for. After this divine lunch we went to see how Chinese kites were made and the history behind them. For example big kites were for royalty and the first kites were used by military spies. At the end of the kite place they gave us all small kites to take home. Then we went to learn all about Tibetan Buddhism. We learned that there are different manifestations of Buddha and why people pray to the different Buddhas. We learned about the wisdom Buddha, pretty Buddha, business Buddha, and such. Many students will go pray to the wisdom Buddha before their exams. Then we went to another beautiful temple - the Confucian temple. There we saw a statue of Confucius, and learned about about his philosophy. In the late afternoon, we went to the acrobatic show. It was so cool! But also very scary because the stuff these people did was so outrageous, and there are no safety nets or safety lines. One reason they were so amazing at this at such a young age is because they don't go to a normal school, they go to an acrobatic school. Finally after the acrobatic show we went to dinner, which was also amazing like most of the other food we've had. After dinner Ms. DAvidson's daughter Emily and Mr. Avera took some girls to the market to get face masks and stuff which was cool to be in a real completely Chinese store where everything was in Chinese and absolutely no one spoke english. Over all it was a great day with lots of cool facts and was a lot of fun!!!!!!!!!!

--Margaret and Lilly

Knights in China - Day 2

Waking up with a 6:00 a.m. wake-up call, we started the day with much a much-needed breakfast, similar to those at home. There were many options, including Coco Puffs, scrambled eggs, a baguette, and fruit. We departed the hotel at 8:00 a.m. and started an hour-long bus ride to the Jade Factory. At the factory we learned about how the jade was manufactured, and how to differentiate real jade from fake jade. We also learned that jade came in colors other than green, and that it starts to change colors after 5 years of wear--this signifies the jade becoming "one with your soul." Many of us also attempted to bargain in the show room. We left the factory and then quickly returned to retrieve a phone left in the bathroom. We took an additional hour bus ride to our favorite stop of the day: The Great Wall of China. Taking a ski lift up, the sun finally emerged and we were able to see the sky with far less pollution. Once on the wall itself we took a couple of minutes to stand in awe before the numerous photo shoots began. Once the group photo was taken, all of us were allotted the opportunity to roam around freely. During this time, many of us found amazing views as we stood at the guard towers. Here we took approximately 9,999 selfies (not 10,000 because that's sacred for the gods) and we enjoyed every minute of it. The best part of the day was when we got to ride the toboggan down the mountain. We got stuck behind two slow people, but at least we weren't stuck on the side of the mountain like Mr. Avera (whose spring came out of his toboggan). After a bathroom break and the struggle to find toilet paper, we got back on the bus and headed to the Cloisonné Factory (which is fancy for colorful ceramic and copper pieces). Here we learned the process of making Cloisonné, and also got to shop around for jewelry, ornaments, small vases, and also a $3 million vase; its a good thing they take credit cards! Next came a two-hour bus ride back to the city where we at a famous Peking duck restaurant for dinner. We had whole ducks roasted and sliced and made burrito-type portions out of it. Finally we headed to the hotel for the night for some much needed R&R.

--Caroline and Grace