International College Beijing student climbingv Arches National Park

ARCHES NATIONAL PARK, Utah – For International College Beijing (ICB) students at CU Denver, spring break allowed time for outdoor adventures in the beautiful American West. This year, students had an exhilarating canyoneering adventure at Arches National Park, near Moab, Utah.

One of the most exciting activities on the trip was rappelling, which, in mountaineering terms, is a method of moving down a steep incline secured by a double rope. Though rappelling is one of the best ways to enjoy natural beauty, it is not always easy for first-timers. Tianyang Wang gives it a try in the photo above.

“I never thought that I could do things like canyoneering before. It is really a challenge for me to learn and practice canyoneering for the first time,” said ICB student Yujia Qin.

Xinying Ye, ICB student, said, “I remembered the last rappelling – I was on the blue rope, and my friend Sandy was on the green one. Both our ropes tangled, and I had to wait for her to go first. Waiting halfway up the cliff, I told myself ‘to calm down and be patient.’ When I finally reached the ground, I felt a relief and a sense of achievement!”

Through the experience, the students gained confidence as they developed their outdoor skills. They also had opportunities to develop new friendships. The six ICB students, eight American students, and four professional staff joined together in the activities organized by Outdoor Adventure with Campus Recreation at Auraria. Teamwork was key to the adventure.

Ye explained, “In our group, every time after (Jay) finished his rappelling, he did not go somewhere to rest. Instead, he held the ends of ropes for the next student. All American students and teachers were helpful and they encouraged me a lot.”

Through helping each other, American students and Chinese students built a solid friendship. “I’m really happy to meet new people and to learn about a new culture,” said Avery Truman, an American student assistant.

As a chance for students to meet new friends, this trip also was an opportunity for them to better understand themselves. One American student, A.J. Drozd, an intern of Outdoor Adventure said, “This is the last part of my college degree, as I will graduate in May. My recreation management degree is kind of broad; this is helping me to find my focus.”

For many of the ICB students, this was their first introduction to the great outdoors. Bryan Ferguson, Outdoor Leadership Specialist at Campus Recreation further pointed out, “This program is ready to go to the next level–to serve many more students with more activities and to involve students in ways that contribute to the missions of the universities, which include, really importantly, diversity. Especially important to me is the idea of connecting people of other cultures and other nations in these activities as a way to connect the world. And to be a part of that, for me, it is really an honor.”

On their last day of the trip, everyone agreed to do volunteer clean-up work for Arches National Park as a way to give back. As the students gathered trash from several parking lots throughout the park, they were reminded of the importance of environmental protection.

Based on the success of this trip, Outdoor Adventure hopes to see more international students enjoying future trips. Another Moab trip is being planned for fall 2014 and spring 2015.

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