I never really wrote a finishing post on my overall experiences in China. So. Here it goes. Sorry for the lack of structure.
Visiting China has been something I have been craving for for years. Don’t really exactly know when it started, though, I remember that when I was sitting at Dalgas back in 2006, swearing over my lack of learning strategy and how to differentiate between the four tones, I just knew that I had to go there one day. Didn’t really know when and how, just knew that I had to.
The internship I choose was random, as most things are in my life anyways. I didn’t want to go to neither Beijing nor Shanghai specifically, because I knew that I would see those cities at some point. Hangzhou for me sounded extremely exotic, and somehow as something nice and interesting. The JD matched my expectations as I wanted to work with children, as for me, that is one of the greatest ways to learn a new culture and a new language. The JD promised that I would have the opportunity to work with children from the rural areas, plan their activities, create cultural workshops (or just whatever I wished to create with them), cooperate with teachers, and much more. Therefore, 1st of May, I left CPH for a new adventure. Overall, I must admit that the internship did not live fully up to my expectations, orh, well, the children did, AIESEC didn’t. I had classes 3 days a week, was supposed to have them all five days, though, unfortunately, the last school had problems with the papers, so they were unable to have any interns. All the three days I was working at different schools, with different children – both age wise, interest wise, and knowledge wise. I think I was working with approximately 180 children each week. It was striking to see how much the English level differed from the private small school and the huge public school. At the private school I was able to have conversations about the world, major events (ex. we spoke about Japan), their dreams and future (the children were around 9-11 years old), whilst at the public school I really had to struggle and be creative in order to make them interested into learning and cooperation – the children there were 14-15 years old, and their English level was limited to simple words and introductions of themselves. Don’t know why but, the 14-15 years old children could either leave me completely frustrated (if I did not manage to cooperate and learn them something) or entirely empty (in a positive way. As you have spend all your energy, thoughts on something, and now just simply have nothing more to give). I really liked that.
Hangzhou and my dorm offered me to see China without the chichi tourist glasses. I met some amazing people at the dorm. Most of the Chinese guys were all working full-time, some of them even studied at night, all working and saving money for their future, and hopefully more propitious, life. Living in a dorm like mine was the only financial option for most of them, and none of them had ever seen a girl from Russia, or Denmark, or anywhere else before. I made some great friendships, and learned a lot about chinese card-games, morning habits (even dating habits), and general life style. Hangzhou is a beautiful city, and its geographical location (only 1 houraway from Shanghai), gives one the opportunity to travel a lot around and see various astonishing sites.
Some words about the internet, as people keep asking me about it. No – youtube, twitter, FB, wordpress (and generally all blogspots), gmail (it kept closing down), and tons of other sites are shut down and are obviously only accessible from a proxy. The development of strategies and tools of control, manipulation and censorship are, for me, a completely sick manifestation, and I don’t approve of it in any ways. I’m pretty convinced that both the time and energy wisely could have been spend on a more essential matter.
Regarding the one-child policy. I told one girl at some point that I had a younger sister. I could have imagined lots of questions regarding that, but, the one I received kinda managed to dazzle me off: “Oh, how do you manage to share with her? Isn’t it annoying?”. I’m not at any point implying that this is how the general youth thinks about it, as, I met a lot of people from rural areas, that had both sisters and brothers, though, nonetheless, it still made me think about how it must feel like to grow up like that. I saw a birthday party at a resto at some point. The 10-year old girl blowing the candles, surrounded by dad, mum, and 4 grand-parents, all 6 of them clapping their hands. Don’t know why but thought about how that little girl at some point would grow up and start having a relationship. Probably with a guy, who, just as her, had been the center of the family attention all of his life. What would their future common life be like? Besides, it seems now that China is getting old way before getting rich – China might be stuck with a low fertility for a long time, and demography might turn out to be one of China’s greatest challenges in the future (according to the data in 20 years’ time there will not be enough native brides for about a fifth of today’s baby boys – if your interested, this article can give a better insight ;).
I spent my last evening in China in Shanghai, dining in the 3rd tallest building in the world – the Shanghai World Financial Center. On the 62nd floor there is a swanky restaurant and a nice lounge. Despite the pasta being overcooked and way overprized – the view was astonishing and the company much more than what I could have dared to wish for – I couldn’t have imagined a more flawless happy ending for such a random adventure.