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After: Now back home…

By 15 July 2009 No Comment

The whole experience of China is still very surreal to me. People ask me how it was, and while I tell them that I enjoyed it, there is only so much I can really tell them that adequately captures my brief time there.

We saw many important sights in China, from the terra cotta warriors of Xi’an to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. We visited news organizations’ offices and other businesses – from the Shanghai Daily to the Wall Street Journal Beijing bureau, to a law firm in Beijing. Among other places visited were the Supreme People’s Court, rural villages (to illustrate the contrast between them and the urban cities we stayed in), and many other places too numerous to name off the top of my head.

While we were there primarily to learn about journalism in China, there is no doubt in my mind that each of us has taken much more from the trip than the knowledge and experience of practicing journalism in a foreign country.

I feel fortunate to have had the experience of living and reporting in China. I have never been in a culture so different from my own. It was interesting to compare and contrast the combination of customs and images I was familiar with from the US with ones I was not familiar with in China. While there are fast-food chains and shopping malls, there is also a political climate and culture very different than the States. Most of the time I saw this, but there were also times when it was not on my mind. A few friends expressed concern about my well-being in China, sometimes joking, other times serious. I never felt unsafe in China, but some aspects of the country, such as the state’s control of the media, were often hard for me to wrap my head around.

It feels very strange to read news articles about China now that I am back in the U.S., especially with the recent events in Urumqi. But no matter what event I am following in China now that I’m back home, I know that my brief physical presence in that complex place will continue to influence how I see China, and the rest of the world.

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