Accepting the nomination to participate as part of the delegation studying international relations and diplomacy in China was the most enriching moment of a lifetime. While in China, we had the opportunity to visit three cities: Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai, and participate in cross-cultural activities. Each city presented its own unique cultural experience and core Chinese values.
In Beijing, the Capital of China, we explored the ancient treasures known to the dynasties of China's past. I enjoyed site visits to Tian'anmen square, known for historical protests and political events, the Forbidden City, home of the Ming and Qin Dynasties, the Great Wall of China and the official press room briefing at China’s Foreign Ministry.
The visit to Beijing was a blast to the past and we traveled forward in time when we visited China’s most central city, Xi'an. In Xi’an, I explored the Muslim Quarter and visited a village school in the countryside. Also, I had the distinct pleasure of indulging in cross-cultural communication with faculty and students at the Xi'an Internationals Studies University. The students at the university provided us with guided tours around of the campus. They allowed us the opportunity to “walk a day in their shoes” and experience what it is like to attend one of China's higher institutions of secondary education.
Finally, we visited Shanghai, known as The Pearl City. As we landed at the Shanghai Pu dong International Airport, I realized that we had traveled back to the 21st century. The city resembled Manhattan, NY with its masses of people and its upscale downtown located near the river called The Bund. I spent my last few days gazing at the Pearl Tower on the river, exploring Old Shanghai, the Yu Garden Area, and marveling at the ERA Acrobats Show at Shanghai Circus City. The trip concluded with a visit to one China's premiere think tanks: Shanghai International Studies University and a farewell dinner.
The eventful schedule and traveling to three cities in a short period of time gave me a firsthand view of life as a political official. With aspirations to become an ambassador or secretary of state, I embraced the valuable networking opportunities and gained insight about Chinese culture and values.
This experience also caused me to reevaluate my perceptions about China and the country’s political influence – not only in the Asian-Pacific region, but globally. This was an unforgettable experience and I look forward to participating in future delegations as time permits!