By: Lexy Deutsch, Short-term Programs Manager, and Ben Tan, ESL Summer Camp student

On August 15, 2014 another season of CCI Greenheart’s Summer English Academy in California came to an end. After 3 weeks, 23 students completed 48 hours of ESL class, visited San Francisco twice to see the Golden Gate Bridge, the Exploratorium, Alcatraz, and the Fisherman’s Wharf, toured the University of California at Berkeley, floated down the Russian River, hiked through the Armstrong Grove Redwood forest, rode rollercoasters at Six Flags, and volunteered their time at the Bounty Community farm in Petaluma, California. Most importantly, over the course of 3 weeks, 23 students formed worldwide friendships that they will never forget. I reached out to one student from camp, Ben Tan, who graciously shared a few thoughts from his camp experience with me.

Lexy:  Can you tell me about your favorite day at camp?

Ben:I think Volunteer Day in a farm was the best and my favorite day. We went to the farm and visited it first. We ate some strawberries, plums, etc. And you know what? They are super sweet and fresh. I almost think I can’t live without them. They tasted unbelievably yummy and delicious. After that, we had to finish our major purpose, which was to help the farmers pull out something like wheat, but it is not exactly wheat, just something like it. The root of the plant is deep and hard. We had to use some tools to pull them out! We almost spent an hour on it. It’s laborious, but still interesting. So-called no pain no gain. We pain our energy and time to finish the job. And we gain the most important stuff in the world – HAPPINESS!

Lexy:  Do you think you made a lot of friends at camp? Can you tell me about the different friends you made?

Ben: Yes, I made a lot of friends, and leave out all the Chinese friends that I made. I just want to talk about my foreign friends (From different countries). I made two best foreign friends in the camp. One is from Russia, and the other one is from Japan. Let me talk about my Russian friend first. His name is Andrey. He is 14 years old. His favorite activity is motocross, and he is good at it. He always makes jokes with me. We like playing with water balloons. He also has a great sense of humor. He is always full of confidence! I admire him. And he also is a “BLACKBERRY KILLER”. He loved blackberry so much. My other best friend is Keita. He is a quiet boy. I’m pretty sure he is 15 years old. His favorite sport is soccer. I love and enjoy being friends with him. He is so friendly and amicable. His behavior is so cute and funny. He always likes to add a “so” in the beginning of the sentences. It sounds like he knows all of the solutions to all the problems. He is an interesting guy. (Ben is pictured with Keita in the featured image.)

Lexy:  Was it difficult to make friends with people who speak a different language?

Ben: No, I don’t think so. I think it’s a challenge for me to make friends around the world. Also it is a great opportunity to know the different cultures. I am glad to make friends. But you know what, to be honest, I’m still afraid of making friends with other people. And I’m pretty sure no one in the world is not afraid to make friends with someone new. They just have to learn how to surmount and use their fear. They have to use their enthusiasm and patience to make friends. They have to be motivated by heart and not expect anything in return. These are the most important things. And those are the tenets that I use to make friends. It is easy to make friends by your heart, no matter if you are from different countries or if you speak a different language.