Wednesday, September 02, 2009
By: Moses O. Bell
I was presented with the life changing opportunity of traveling to China with the business department of South Carolina State University. When I first heard about the trip, it was difficult for me to wrap my mind around the idea of being accepted to the program and actually traveling half way around the world. After I finally acknowledged the possibility, the dream became my reality.
The realization of leaving American soil didn't become evident to me until I was seated on the plane with passport in hand. I saw the first major landmark before we ever arrived in China; the North Pole. Who would have thought that seeing an endless supply of frozen water would fuel a level of excitement within me that I'd never experienced before?
After a 14 hour flight, the plane finally came to a long anticipated landing in what seemed to be a whole new world. We were driven to the hotel, by bus, on highways so crowded that they made New York City streets look like small country roads. One of the first truly Asian experiences that my fellow "Bull Dogs" and I took part in was eating authentic Chinese cuisine. The food was exceedingly different from what people call "Chinese food" in the United States. We were served a mixture of differently flavored chicken, tofu, fish, shrimp, soups, fresh vegetables, and perfectly cooked rice placed on a large rotating glass table for convenience. The tea that was provided with each meal was extremely delicious because it was naturally flavorful, making the addition of sugar unnecessary.
The tour group (EF Tours) that we traveled with made sure that we witnessed the magnificence of China. We visited Tiananmen Square (the sight of the famous 1989 protests that resulted in the "June Fourth Tianamen massacre"), The Forbidden City (the imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the last Qing Dynasty) in the middle of Beijing, and Yangshuo where we took a long dinner cruise on the Li River (surrounded by beautiful mountain peaks). One of the absolute highlights of our journey was arriving at the Great Wall of China. The road leading to the "Great Wall" was surrounded by an incredible landscape of enormous mountains and lush fields.
The walk on this huge historic work of art was breath-taking in more ways than one. We also visited a number of museums along with other historic wonders, but the quintessential masterpiece of China (in my opinion) will forever be the Terracotta Warriors. These warriors of different heights and sizes discovered by local farmers in 1974. The warriors were buried with Shi Huang Di (the 1st emperor of Qin) as far back as 210 BCE in order to help him rule his empire in the afterlife.
Viewing the splendor of all of these famous places made me feel as if I had traveled into the past and experienced some of the major events that occurred in those eras. The vibrant colors that were used to paint the interior of the temples and imperial dwellings were unquestionably the handy work of artistic geniuses. The architecture of many of the ancient buildings was still (in most cases because of constant renovation) in almost perfect condition. The stone masonry was also so intricate that it left me wondering how a solid rock could be cut with such precision without modern tools. I was left in a state of complete adoration by the elaborate designs on the roof work of many of theses ancient beauties.
Walking through the streets of China was like taking a stroll through the most popular street on a distant planet. We were obviously outsiders; never the less, we were always treated with the utmost respect. On more than one occasion, we were stopped in the streets with requests for pictures (because as African Americans we were clearly different from what they were used to seeing on a regular basis), so much so that it made my fellow Bulldogs and I feel like movie stars.
Traveling to China opened my eyes to a completely different culture; it also allowed me to witness international business being conducted on a large scale. This trip changed my life and motivated me to continue my studies in business so that I may become a skilled practitioner of marketing.
Well, with all that said, I depart in the words of my tour guide, Simon, "Zai Jian" (which means good bye in Mandarin).
The goal of this trip was for students to be excited about foreign travel and return as ambassadors, sharing their experiences with colleagues in hopes that they all grasp the idea of studying international business at SC State. For more information contact Dr. David Jamison at 803-536-8443