An Ancient Town

  • List three things you learned during the two train rides (not necessarily about the train).

Three things I learned was you can directly reach PingYao from Beijing by train, the whole train ride was convenient and smooth, also it only took around 3 hours to the destination.

 

  • What are two things you learned by the end of this trip?

I learned it was fun to spend time with friends out of school, and Pingyao’s cultural, community, and history background.

 

  • What were the successful aspects of the Pingyao Challenge for your group?

Our group planned the routine out before we started, which is a main reason why our group won the first place. Also, we moved fast, and didn’t stop and get distracted by other things.

 

  • The funniest moment on the trip was

Before going on the train, I ordered Starbucks but then forgot to pay. The cashier stopped me before I walked away.

 

  • What was the most challenging aspect of the trip? How did you deal with this challenge?

My challenge was I didn’t really have friends in my hotel group, so I felt lonely at the beginning. But later on I hanged out with Renee and Grace, which pulled our relationships a bit closer, also we enjoyed the time spent playing cards.

 

  • · Describe the most memorable experience you had in Pingyao.

My most memorable experience was the time spent on the train. I really had fun with my friends, and I will forever remember this precious journey.

 

  • What recommendations would you make for the trip next year?

I would like to change the hotels a little, because my room was a wedding room, which felt a little bit weird…? Also the bathroom was really small, a little bit crowded.

Behind Pretty

A world where everyone’s ugly. And then they’re not. Scott Westerfeld is the author of this book, Uglies, Pretties, Specials, Extras are the New York Times bestselling series. Do you ever wonder what could hide under beautiful covers? There are always secrets and sacrifices. In the novel, Tally Youngblood is about to turn sixteen, and she’s desperately wanting to turn from repellent ugly into a stunning pretty, then all she need is to have fun. But her friend Shay ran away because she doesn’t want to become pretty. On the way to find Shay, Tally discovered the true secrets about turning pretty… Not very pretty.

 

When you glaze at the bright stars, Tally is one of the sparkle ones. When Shay was going to leave the city and go to the Smoke, Tally persuaded so hard for her to stay, she attaches importance into friendship. Even when Special Circumstances forced Tally to betray the Smoke, or else she’s not getting her wish – be pretty, she still set foot on her journey. She followed her dream on life-changing conflicts. When she reached the smoke and decided to stay, this is flexibility. After the Smokies got captured Tally and David still risked their life to save them even all the Smokies already hated them; this is trustworthy. When Maddy found the uncertain cure, Tally immediately decided she will be the willing subject; this is courage. Tally is a brave girl who always want to find out the actual truth. She’s never afraid of conflicts and risks, carless about losing everything, willing to try things that might sacrifice herself. David fell in love of her because of her personality, not physical appearance. Shay treasures her friendship with Tally because of her pure heart. The Smokies respect Tally because she showed in-depth determination to find what is really wrong of being pretty, and what’s really wrong with herself and the world around her.

Secrets are always hidden under beautiful covers. In this book, Special Circumstances took full control of New Pretty Town and Uglyville. Each child would receive an operation when they reach sixteen to turn to attractive pretties, and this was always a dream for all the Uglies. In the city, Pretties could have as much fun as they like, no rules and no expectations lay ahead of them, anything can come out from magic walls in the city to meet Pretties’ needs. Every citizen is required to wear an interface ring – not only to bring in personal demands, but also to let government track where everyone is. The main character Tally desperately wanted to turn pretty. She played all kinds of tricks to try to sneak in New Pretty Town, staring out through her window imagining what it would feel like to be beautiful. Until, she met Shay. Shay doesn’t want to become pretty. She was confident with her face and her future, Shay decided to leave this under-control city and go to a place called the Smoke, where everyone’s ugly for their whole life. No one knew if this place actually exists or not, only rumors in Uglyville says previously a few Uglies also escaped. Still longing to turn pretty, Tally stayed, but Special Circumstances demanded Tally to find Shay and the Smoke otherwise they won’t give Tally the operation forever, which meant Tally would need to betray her friend. [“And I didn’t go with her, because I just… wanted… to be pretty!” – (Westerfeld, 127)] When Tally finally reached the Smoke unwillingly, she changed her mind and wanted to stay. Tally made new friends with Croy and David, she also learnt David is a pre-rusty, he was born in the Smoke and never went to a city before. This is also when Tally fully understood what turning pretty truly means after a conversation with David’s parents. [“I found that there were complications from the anesthetic used in the operation. Tiny lesions in the brain. Barely visible, even with the best machines.” – (Westerfeld, 250)] It turns out turning pretty is just an excuse for the operation, what operation really does is it changes your mind, making you rely on this city and Special Circumstances, no other thoughts except for enjoying in New Pretty Town. David’s parents have been studying this lesion for their whole life. They used to work with Special Circumstances until they realized the actual truth, so they ran away and transformed themselves back to ugly. [David lowered his voice. “Maybe they didn’t want you to realize that every civilization has its weakness. There’s always one thing we depend on. And if someone takes it away, all that’s left is some story in a history class. – (Westerfeld, 330)] Special Circumstances does not want people to know their weakness, they prefer it better as a secret. What actually had the operation done to you was also a… Beautiful secret.

This dystopian fiction is very similar to our now society in some countries. There are many governments in world now who still put lies on their own people to control their thoughts, try to cover up previous ugly truths. They do not teach specifically histories in school. They fake history to make their leader look great. Websites are band immediately if it contains reactionary speech/telling the truth. Citizens are not allowed to speak ill of government leaders. If caught, the punishment is imprisoning. There is no freedom of speech, government decides everything. You cannot learn any “real” history on that country’s local websites. Although previous government leaders did something wrong himself and caused harm, he’s still the “hero” and kept away from blame. The government wants you to live in fantastic bubbles that feels like to be a prefect society, but most of the secrets are hidden forever. Do you really know everything about this world? Or perhaps just a tip of the iceberg?