FanFanby Fan Fan, Educational Department Intern

These past few months at The Hutong have been rich ones. I’ve gotten to see so much of China, from renowned heritage sites like the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an to hole-in-the-wall community libraries hidden away in the hutongs. I’ve learned a lot about how to deliver the highest levels of service and professionalism. I’ve loved dreaming and creating together with The Hutong to achieve their visions for greater experiential education.

The most defining moments of my time at The Hutong have taken place on-site on education programs. At the start of one program — before our bus had even pulled away from the station — one student asked if he could sit out on our Via Ferrata abseiling activity in Tianchi Canyon Park. He was deathly afraid of heights, he said. Two days later at the canyon, I watched him slowly ascend 130 feet into the air — his hands tightly gripping the metal rope across the Via Ferrata rock face, his face chalk-white, his feet moving one baby step at a time across the metal fixtures — and finish the Via Ferrata ropes course.

On a Beijing arts program, I met several gifted young artists who overcame stage fright, challenged themselves to draw, tried their hand at a new instrument, and essentially threw themselves into creating art — even within art forms they didn’t feel so confident in. I marveled and cheered as one girl volunteered to accompany professional puppeteers on piano, and as another raised her hand for an improv game, though she felt nervous and preferred the visual arts to acting. Many learned to silence their inner critics — that little nagging voice inside you that tells you you’re not good enough — and jumped headfirst out of their comfort zones.

These stories revealed something special about The Hutong. There’s a certain resolve here, an indomitable spirit that continues to astound me. The experiences The Hutong provides and the caliber of its leadership move people to step into journeys of personal growth. I am grateful to have been a part of these lessons and will carry them home.


Fan Fan graduated from the University of Southern California with a BA in comparative literature (Spanish). She is very appreciative of her opportunity to work with The Hutong, as is The Hutong thankful to have had the opportunity to work with her. We wish Fan the best, now that she is heading to Brazil on a Fulbright grant.