](/node/46686)It's said that for every hour of a time difference, you need a full day of sleep to catch up. I think that's pretty much right. We're finally back to a normal schedule after the 12 hour time change and today was the first morning I didn't wake up at 4:00 a.m., ready to start my day. It's time to close out the journal and tell fans about the last leg of our amazing tour - our 7th journey to China.
On our first day in Shanghai, the cheerleaders hosted a middle school spirit assembly at the Shanghai American School. Alexandria, Brittany, Camille and Leigha Marie stood on the stage of the beautiful auditorium, packed with excited kids, performed routines and then answered a host of great questions about cheerleading, college, careers and achieving goals. Next, the cheerleaders taught the middle school students chants to see which grade had the most school spirit. Let's just say it was a tie! We departed a room of spirited students and headed off to the Kerry Hotel Pudong for a workshop with the Shanghai Nighthawk Cheerleaders.
The workshop took place in the health club at the hotel, one of nicest fitness facilities I've been in, with countless pieces of state of the art cardio equipment, machines, weights, and of course a beautiful aerobics studio. After texting our personal trainer, Andy, a picture of the facility, we got to work. The Shanghai Nighthawk Cheerleaders were talented, beautiful and eager to learn, as they were scheduled to perform with the NEPC at our NFL Home Field event the following Sunday at Shanghai Stadium. After a two hour session, they left with a three-minute routine to practice and polish for the weekend's performance.
The next day we weren't scheduled for any promotional appearances and were given a full day to relax, sight-see and of course, shop again! We found another market, similar to the one on Silk Street in Beijing, and bought the purses we regretted not buying the first time around (just what we needed). That afternoon, our tour guide, Dave, took us to the Bund. The Bund is the former financial center of Asia and what makes it so interesting is that on one side of the Huangpu River you'll see gorgeous, historic buildings (Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance) and on the other you'll see views of ultra modern Pudong. It's a fantastic view of old and new Shanghai. It's beautiful during the day, and at night, the skyscrapers are lit up like Vegas so you get two completely different experiences from day to night. Next we went to the Yuyuan Gardens which was originally built in 1559 during the Ming Dynasty. The garden is filled with ornate pavilions, winding paths and sculpted gardens. There's a bazaar, tea house and lots of tourists taking pictures. We took dozens. We love Shanghai as much as Beijing. China is such a beautiful country!
Though we only have three days left of our two week tour, the last three days are to be among our busiest. Today will prove to be one of the most fulfilling. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month in China, just like in the United States, and the Kerry Hotel Pudong hosted the More than Aware, Pledge Your Pony event. Alexandria, Brittany, Camille and Leigha Marie had the opportunity to perform a celebratory dance today with approximately 20 amazing breast cancer survivors. More than Aware's logo is a pink and green ribbon. The pink symbolizes breast cancer awareness. The green symbolizes prevention and pro-action. The organization gave the cheerleaders road race t-shirts with a blank space on the back for them to note their "green". A "green" is a goal, no matter how big or how small, that is a step in a positive direction to a healthier lifestyle, emotionally or physically, as both affect health. Examples of green; drinking more water, stretching, thinking pleasant thoughts, running a marathon. What's YOUR green? The strong, beautiful women that the cheerleaders performed with had formed a bond; a sister-hood, through their journey. Their spirit was contagious. Stephanie of NFL China kindly donated six inches of her hair, thus "pledging her pony", at the event. She looks just as beautiful with shoulder length hair as she did with long hair, some lucky person is going to get a beautiful wig because of her big heart, and the NEPC enjoyed cheering her on. It was an amazing event!
Next we traveled on to the NFL Shop photo shoot. The cheerleaders had so much fun modeling a new line of Patriots reversible winter coats, some t-shirts, baseball caps, footballs and of course, a Patriots helmet. I thought I was going to have to assign one of them to put the helmet on (definitely not a good "hair look")… this particular group argued over who GOT to do it! Hams! Lots of gear will be sold for sure! In addition to recognizing BCA in October, China also celebrates Halloween! After the photo shoot, the cheerleaders rushed back to the hotel to put on their Halloween costumes. Camille dressed as Wonder Woman, Brittany as a soldier, Leigha Marie as a flapper girl and Alexandria as Waldo (aka Where's Waldo). They definitely turned heads in the lobby. The Halloween party took place on a boat cruise on the Bund, where we were treated to a beautiful night view of the Shanghai skyline. The costumes of the other guests on the boat were amazing! The cheerleaders signed posters, posed for photos and enjoyed the truly unique experience of Halloween in Shanghai!
October 27; our last NFL Home Field event. We're back at the Jing An Shangri-La Hotel and were invited by General Manager Edward Brea to have a delicious breakfast in the Horizon Club on the 55th floor which had the most amazing view of the city you could imagine. We traveled to Shanghai Stadium where there were so many fans waiting to greet the NEPC. The stands were full of people waiting to watch the game. After an introductory performance, the cheerleaders were off and running, circulating and signing autographs. The cheerleading clinic was packed with novices and experienced participants alike. Cheerleading teams from the Shanghai Community International School (SCIS), Active Kidz Shanghai (AKS), Sport for Life (Diamonds Cheer Program), Shanghai Dragons Cheerleaders, Puxi Slayers Cheerleaders and of course, the Shanghai Nighthawks Cheerleaders attended. Learning dance choreography, cheers, jumps and practicing stunting, the clinic was a huge success. The Shanghai Nighthawk Cheerleaders performed their routine with the Patriots Cheerleaders like professionals! The two squads cheered together on the sidelines for the first half of the game. The final tackle game score was 22-6 with the Shanghai Warriors beating the Shanghai Nighthawks. The crowd was engaged and really loved watching and learning about American football.
I was really excited to get up today. I won a bet! RULE; don't bet against the Patriots. Even if you're GM Edward Brea and you're wicked smart. He's a Dolphins fan. He said the Dolphins were going to beat the Pats. They didn't. He has to wear a Patriots jersey today and learn a cheer, holding poms! Can't wait!! Be sure to check out pics in our photo gallery!
Our last day in Shanghai was spent at the SCIS, the Shanghai Community International School. We met many of these students yesterday at our cheerleading clinic at the NFL Home Field event so we were excited to see if they had practiced what they had learned, and ready to teach them some new skills. After reviewing material, we had them perform for each other and they excelled! The two hour cheer clinic ended with a Q&A session and the questions were exceptional. At one point I found myself having a conversation with four middle school "best friends". One of the young girls was originally from China, one from Germany, one from Switzerland and one from India. It was a beautiful group of friends, each so lucky to have such an opportunity to learn about so many cultures.
Our final night in China was spent at the Kerry Hotel Pudong were the NEPC attended a Monday Night viewing party at the Brew, the sports bar restaurant inside the hotel. It was so much fun! We met people from all over the world. I met someone from Rhode Island, my home state, and Camille met someone from her hometown! The cheerleaders performed three times (that's nine routines!) in front of larger-than-life cutouts, which they autographed at the end of the night to be auctioned off for the hotel's breast cancer initiative. The fans were receptive and fun and the ladies didn't want to leave. It was with great hesitation that we wrapped up the night, but we had a tremendous amount of packing to do.
The next morning we flew home quite comfortably on United Airlines (we actually stayed awake for their meals) and the flight attendants made sure we were well taken care of. They asked us questions about our trip and were so friendly. Total flying time to and from China; 38 hours. It was worth every minute getting there as the experience was priceless.
The NFL Home Field events, with tackle football games, interactive events, alumni football player and cheerleader appearances, really gave Chinese fans an opportunity to participate in an American football "experience". We truly enjoyed being a part of that experience. Thank you to everyone who made this opportunity possible for us. Richard, Stephanie, Jen, Raya, Elsa, Roy, it was a pleasure working with all of you on tour number 7. Though on the other side of the world, China is close to our hearts!
Tracy, Alexandria, Brittany, Camille and Leigha Maria