YES Programs



Chinese Bridge Spring Camp

A peaceful river with trees overhanging the water

Mahdi Mubarak '20, a YES alum from Bahrain, recently completed a two-week exchange program in China called the "Chinese Bridge" Spring Camp, organized by the Ministry of Education's Center for Language Education and Cooperation. The program, which brought together students from Gulf Cooperation Council countries, aimed to connect cultures through mutual learning of the Chinese language.

A table full of many different dishes of food

During the two weeks, Mahdi had a packed schedule, making the most of every day to fit in as much as possible. He visited Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Shenyang, where he experienced the richness and diversity of Chinese culture. He took basic Chinese language courses at Shanghai University’s Yanchang Campus, which helped him communicate with the locals and understand the culture better. Mahdi also visited several historical and cultural sites, such as the Great Wall of China in Beijing, the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, and the City God Temple in Yu Garden. He also experienced a night cruise on the Huangpu River in Shanghai, which had stunning views of the city's skyline.

Mahdi also met with university students and visited historical and cultural tourist attractions, which left a lasting impression on him. He interacted with Chinese students from Shanghai University who were preparing for an exchange year at the University of Bahrain (UoB). Mahdi and the Chinese students, who had never been to the Middle East, discussed the similarities and differences between China and Bahrain. These conversations allowed Mahdi to gain new perspectives and form connections that will help the Chinese students' time in Bahrain.

Mahdi noted that while the program shared some similarities with the YES program in terms of fostering connections between countries, he found China to be a completely different world. The experience opened his eyes to a new culture and way of life, broadening his horizons and deepening his understanding of the world. He was struck by the vastness of the country and the sheer size of its population. The language, with its unique characters and tones, was initially a challenge for him, but he embraced the opportunity to learn and communicate. Mahdi also noticed significant differences in the food, customs, and social norms compared to his home country. The pace of life in cities like Beijing and Shanghai was much faster than what he was used to. Additionally, he was impressed by the modern infrastructure and technological advancements in China, which seemed to coexist with the country's ancient history and traditions.

Drawing parallels to his YES experience, Mahdi reflected on how both programs have shaped his perspective and provided him with invaluable opportunities for personal growth and cultural exchange. He believes that these experiences will continue to influence his future endeavors and is grateful for the connections he has made through both the YES program and the "Chinese Bridge" Spring Camp.

Mahdi Mubarak (YES 2019-2020, Bahrain, placed by Aspect in Price, UT)