Postcards Home from China: Navigating the exotic, but finding the familiar

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

Jacob Haworth

A selfie of Jacob Haworth, taken at the Red Wall Hotel in Beijing. (Courtesy Jacob Haworth)

By Jacob Haworth Accounting and management student

With China's astounding population, witnessing the public's respect for one another's time is refreshing. As a foreigner, diving headfirst into China's cultured, fast-paced and continually evolving environment, I was excited to immerse myself open-heartedly along with my colleagues.

At first glance, the amount of personal space is drastically reduced. However, after some brief integration among the locals, I felt welcomed, as if I was part of a well-oiled machine. Once accustomed, driving through Beijing's traffic, strolling in Tiananmen Square and shopping in the Muslim Quarter in Xi'an became almost carefree, natural and more immersive.

To illustrate the intensity of this trip, our group traveled by bus, plane, train, taxi and by boat to navigate our way through China's vast landscape. My personal interest throughout our excursion was experiencing and or witnessing "everyday" simple tasks local Chinese carry out daily.

Mother and child in China

Mothers tending to their children was a common scene that made China feel familiar to this UAA student. (Photo by Dominique Kurth/UAA)

As the trip progressed, I began to realize the many similarities we share with the Chinese. From watching families share a laugh to a mother caring for her child, revealed a comforting sensation within my inner-self. Of course, our culture, families and life experiences shape us all; however, our underlying framework is generally the same.

After about a week of traveling through China, I began to see glimmers of the collectivist philosophy in forms of the deep-rooted family respect and importance. I have always longed for a comprehensive family support system that reaches beyond our generation. Many students we encountered seemed to display more thoughtfulness and selflessness than typically found in the United States. This links back to the depth of China's history and family structure.

Jacob Haworth was one of nine students who traveled to China this summer as a part of an economics class dealing with globalization and business opportunities in China. Read more of their Postcards Home from China.


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