Explore Nanjing Through The Eyes Of The Pac-12 All-Star Volleyball Team

NANJING, China – As the Pac-12 Conference all-star volleyball team got ready to make their way to the next stop on their tour, BreElle Bailey from ASU reflected on her time in Shanghai.

“My initial reaction to Shanghai was just kind of a culture shock,” said Bailey. “Everything is so different. I was really surprised at how modern it was, I guess I was expecting it to be a little less modern. I also didn’t think that I would like the food as much as I did, especially our authentic Chinese meals. The favorite thing I ate was duck since I’d never had it before and a few chicken dishes.”

When asked what she’s looking forward to on the rest of the tour, she immediately answered, “the Great Wall; it’s one of the Seven Wonders which will be really cool,” said Bailey. “And I’ve loved the shopping. It’s more the bargaining part than the actual shopping, since it’s fun to barter for items. I’m also excited to play more volleyball together.”

Escaping the humidity of Shanghai, the Pac-12 team boarded the high-speed train to Nanjing, the renowned historical and cultural city and capital of several dynasties over the course of Chinese history. It was many of the players' first time on a bullet train and their first experience in China outside of Shanghai. 

“It was really cool to see the different sights by the side of the train as we went by,” said California’s Jenelle Jordan. “I was surprised how much gardening they did by the side of the train. I don’t know much about Nanjing but I’m ready to learn more. I’m also really excited to see the Great Wall and to do more shopping in Beijing.”

At one of the city’s more popular Vietnamese restaurants, the Pac-12 athletes tried chicken curry, spring rolls, local fruit, pork skewers and more. The overwhelming group favorite was steamed chicken wrapped in bamboo leaf.

Later in the afternoon, the athletes toured the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall and learned about Sino-Japanese relations during WWII and the history of war crimes in Nanjing.

 “My first reaction was that the outside was absolutely gorgeous and all of the different statues of the different events that happened,” said Washington’s Destiny Julye. “What was really striking were the dates and how it happened less than 100 years ago.”

“It really broadened my perspective because what you see in history class is really just the tip of the iceberg. But actually seeing the real horrific events that happened, it was definitely more eye opening.”

To round out the cultural day, the team climbed the Nanjing city wall, one of the few cities in China to still have old city walls in tact. Inside the 600-year-old wall, the Pac-12 athletes experienced a traditional tea ceremony and learned about the customary ways to serve and drink local tea.

“I did love the tea we tried today, especially the white tea,” said Julye. “I think I had at least six cups. She let us try making tea but it wasn’t as good as the one she made us. The overall experience was great and just having fellowship with my teammates was an awesome end to the day.”

Tomorrow morning the Pac-12 will play the Jiangsu professional women's volleyball team at their local practice facility in the second match of the China tour.

The tour is another milestone for Pac-12 Global, an initiative to promote goodwill and transformative life experiences through student-athlete exchanges and sport, and to showcase the Conference and its member institutions in China. Student-athlete tours have been organized in the sports of men’s and women’s basketball, as well as women’s volleyball. Coaching clinics have also been organized with Pac-12 coaches sharing their knowledge of sport with Chinese groups both abroad in China and at member campuses, as well as hosting exhibition games with some of China’s top teams in women’s volleyball and women’s soccer. This past November, the Conference hosted the Pac-12 China Game in Shanghai, becoming the first ever league - college or professional - to host a regular season basketball game in China. For more information about Pac-12 Global, visit http://pac-12.com/global.