February 20, 2012

My Summer in China

A few years ago, I spent a summer in China.  While I might say to some people that I went purely for educational reasons, I am also willing to venture to say that I went for a much bigger reason; that is, I went to receive a better understanding of the differences between the United States (a country in the Western World) and China (a country in the Eastern World).  While in China I took a few classes, including: ancient Chinese medicine, Chinese seal carving, and a course focusing on the relationship between the United States and China.

But rather than focusing on each individual things I learned on this trip and while taking these classes, I will focus on what appeared to be the most eye opening for me.  Some of the most influential experiences came from the weekend and overnight trips that I took.  While on these trips, I was really able to see the differences between the two cultures.  One night I had the pleasure of having dinner with a family in Shanghai (which is one of the largest cities in China).  While having dinner with this family, which has a daughter about the same age as me, I was able to learn a lot about their day to day interactions and activities.  While talking to the daughter, she informed me that after she attends school each day, she comes straight home and starts helping the mother.  A woman's role in China is changing constantly, and as described by the girl I met, the daughter helps the mother on a daily basis.  Due to the fact that China still upholds the rule that each family can only have one child, most chinese families still wish for a boy, so that the boy can help support the family when he gets older.  If a family wishes to have more than one child, then they must pay a fee; which is exactly what the family did that I had dinner with.  I was able to take away the fact that while a women's role in Chinese society is still not honored, a woman in a chinese family plays a big role in day-to-day life.  While this dinner was not necessarily the most exotic thing I did while on the trip, it definitely helped me get a so-called "insider view" into chinese culture (more specifically the one-child policy) and learn from the perspective of someone the same age as me.

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