Thursday, July 14, 2016

My Mind....Has Been Broadened

They say that travel broadens your mind, and after two summers working closely with locals in China, I can't agree with that statement more.  While there are a staggering number of differences between the US and China, there are also an unlimited amount of similarities.  Last night I was asked by one of the Chinese teachers what my impression of China was before I arrived in the country for the first time.  I really had a hard time answering.  My view of China was not a positive one that I would want to share with a citizen.  As Westerners, we have certain expectations for our lifestyle.  Easterners have had a very different history and therefore have very different lifestyle expectations.  Lots of adjectives could describe the China I thought I was going to before my first visit:

Old
Dirty
Overpopulated
Closed
Impoverished
Under-educated


I of course couldn't tell the teacher this, so I told her my previous view of China was that it was a beautiful country with lots of ancient history and left it at that.  I did go on to tell her a new list of adjectives, though, that now defines my view of China:

Modern

Intelligent


Peaceful


Stunningly Beautiful


Historic


Creative


Getting to know the teachers and the students is what makes this experience different from travel.  I am spending a month living as a Chinese local.  I even created a WeChat account!!  WeChat is the most popular Chinese social media.  It's like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all in one.  Experiencing life as a Chinese citizen would has given me a new perspective on HOW they live.  It has given me an appreciation for the culture here.  Experiencing this culture shock with China has allowed me to broaden my mind towards other countries as well.  I feel like I am better prepared to not only understand, but appreciate, cultural differences when I travel.  We live in a globalized world.  it's critical for Americans to know more than just their home country.  Get out there and explore the world!

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