Big city, bright lights, first day out on the town. Thousands and thousands of people: taxis, cars, bikes, buses, and pedestrians. Intimidating police officers, generals and army men were posted up near and far. I was fascinated by the spellbound looks and the whisperings chats of astounded people. People were amazed by Americans particularly African-Americans. Flash here flash there, cameras all around. In the mist of all the camera flashes, I actually felt like a movie star being surrounded by paparazzi.
My trip to China was an enlightening experience. The customs and values there are extremely different from Americans. For instance, when my delegation members and I visited local farmers’ villages for a home stay, the Chinese families had a strong bond. The emphasis on family values differs from most parent and child relationships here in America. In my household, I would rather eat dinner in my room than sit with my parents. However, in China it is traditional for each member in the household to eat dinner at the dinner table. Also, a Chinese etiquette is that the oldest person in the house sits down first at the dinner table and the children take care of the elderly. As well, one thing I noticed in all the households, the grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, and children all live under one roof. Not only are they family oriented in their household, but with the community as well. People knew each other very well and greeted each time they passed. The community was extremely welcoming to us and I felt very safe. We all danced around and played games as if we were one big family.
In addition to understanding Chinese family customs, there were some things in China that made me appreciate home. For instance, I observed countless of tremendous things that I had never seen before. There was massive construction of buildings; men and women were riding on motorbikes with crates of food, and people were hauling rickshaws. Plus, traffic laws over there don’t exist. There were car accidents left and right. It was absolutely no sense of driving skills. I also noticed some public restrooms did not have toilets. The stalls had holes in the floors where people had to squat down and use the restroom. This was a very bad experience for me having to use China’s public restroom. Let alone in certain places, there was a fetid odor in the air because of the sewer beneath us and the enormous amount of people crowed together. In spite of this, it made me realize how lucky I am to have had this experience. There were times I wanted to go back home. However, I learned to appreciate what I have.
All and all, this adventure has opened my eyes, heart and mind to another culture. This trip was an immensely valuable experience, which helped me to learn how to interact with people from different customs from mine. Acquiring insight of the family values in China and the distinction between their lifestyle and my lifestyle here in America was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
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