China Diaries Part II

Painting China in Black & Gold

Passion should always be an integral part of what we do. Be it the very nature of existing, falling for someone or even considering a career plan. I have to admit, as someone who started his journey in the United States as an International student, I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity than the role of an International admissions recruiter where on a daily basis I get the opportunity to interact with prospective International students from around the world. In fact, through those interactions with International students, counselors and colleagues in the profession I also get to learn not only more about the various educational systems of the world, but also the culture that exists in many parts of the globe.

Going back to my days in China and to the continuation of my blog China diaries my fourth destination post Shanghai led me to a relatively small town (considering the overall population of cities like Beijing and Shanghai) called Lanzhou also known to be the city based on the yellow river. Even though Lanzhou is the capital of the Gansu province in Northwest China, it is still a developing town as compared to some of the larger cities in China. I remember taking the evening walking around the riverbed in Lanzhou and how the locals were captivated to see me and I certainly got the idea that not many foreign tourists visited the town. Believe me it is quite fascinating to live the life of a third culture adult even for a few minutes, I mean I grew up in India and lived there for 21 years of my life and then moved to the States and have been here for now 10 years and then there I was on my first trip to China feeling what a wonderful life it is to live and experience different cultures of the world. In some aspects I truly enjoy my ‘otherness’ it is fascinating to put yourself in a country where you have never been before and to get the opportunity to observe and learn more about the people of that part of the world is truly a blessing.

Luncheon with counselors in Lanzhou

My visit to the school in Lanzhou was quite pleasant indeed for it was followed by a grand luncheon organized by the administrators and counselors of the school. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the lunch I had to apologize to my hosts for my lack of chopstick skills which are still in their adolescent stage and hence I used a ‘shovel’ or so to speak a fork to feed myself. The food was fantastic and the conversations that followed were truly enlightening and educative in nature. As I had a few hours left before my flight took off from Lanzhou for Chongqing my hosts decided to give me a quick tour of the city, which showcased a famous German bridge built in the early 1900’s, the Gansu Museum (learnt more about the civil war of China and how the Communist party came in power), collection of water wheels and a visit to the river bed. I have to confess, one of the most fascinating things that I saw in Lanzhou and in China overall was the sheepskin raft. Evidently, this is a thing of the past where the raft is made of sheepskins and often locals utilize it to cross the yellow river in Lanzhou and even though this is not something utilized for commuting on the river anymore, it certainly tends to grab the attention of the tourists.

The giant water wheel at the Yellow river in Lanzhou
The German Bridge on the Yellow River
The sheepskin raft!

After Lanzhou, I was on my way to Chongqing, unfortunately due to limited time in the city, I didn’t get to see much of the town, but certainly enjoyed interacting with counselors, parents and prospective students during my school visits. One of the more interesting things that happened was my meeting with some kids at a high school who were planning to do a volunteer project in India in the same town that I pursued my undergraduate degree, that is Vadodara (Baroda), India. I told the kids that I would be happy to help them with information about the city as well as any other logistical information about non-profit organizations in that area. Truly, it is fascinating to see how we live in such a small world and that we are connected to each other in so many interesting ways.

The brilliant kids of Chongqing (Indeed, the force is strong!)

My final destination in China was the city of Chengdu, also known these days to tourists around the world as the home of the Panda. And thankfully I did get to visit the Panda research center and a local market before falling sick at the end of my journey. In the end my visit to China was fascinating at so many levels, for before going to China I had heard many different versions of people’s experiences there. However, having witnessed the country firsthand and being able to visit six different parts of the country has left me fascinated and charmed by this upcoming superpower. China not only has a huge role to play in the global education sector of the 21st century, but also will be involved in one form or the other in every geopolitical decision of the future. For me at a personal level, I can’t wait to go back to China, hopefully this time with a few more Mandarin phrases under my belt.

Hello, Panda!
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