Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Updates and Photos from David

During the course of our seminar and daily site visits, I feel like we really received a crash course in virtually all things Chinese. We learned Chinese history from our class discussions, as well as in our site visits to Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall. We got an insight into the lives of the rural population through our visit to a rural community, which included a discussion with the village head, and discussions with Chinese scholars who have focused their research on the plight of the rural poor and on the enormous and growing "floating" migrant worker population, who migrate to the cities in search of factory jobs in order to increase the opportunities available for their next of kin. We glimpsed into China's booming corporate world through tours of offices and discussions with businesspeople who work for some of China's most successful companies. We also learned about all of the problems that China faces in the future through conversations with scholars who focus on China's myriad challenges, including problems ranging from shortages in energy resources and environmental degradation to truly striking disparities in the distribution of wealth. We even broached controversial topics such as the rise of Chinese nationalism and the relative merits and drawbacks of China's Communist system as compared to what China might look like under a more open and Democratic society. Through conversations with Chinese university students, we came to understand the enormous pressures faced by determined students trying to compete with 1.4 billion people for the few truly high paying jobs available in China's export driven economy that runs primarily on cheap labor. Then when the "school day" was finished, we would work on our Mandarin as we tried to navigate the city by taxi and order food. These efforts met with varying success, sometimes managing to order absolutely fantastic meals, while at other times ending up with a huge bowl full of intestines on our table. Overall, the experience enabled us to relate with and better understand a country and a people who are often portrayed in the U.S. media as a serious threat to our economic well-being and to global security.

No comments:

Post a Comment