First of all it’s important to say that I feel very grateful for being able to travel to China, to meet my AFS colleagues and to develop this incredible project which aims to foster cooperation among European and Asian countries.
My visit to China was incredible! I had no idea of what I would find (besides that of what we see or hear in the news) and as an AFS’er I know that my mind has to be open and that I must look at everything from an ethno-relative perspective.
Having said that, I must say that I had a great time in China as I had the opportunity to visit 3 different cities which are developing incredibly fast in infrastructures, transports and technology economic sectors- Beijing, Changzhou and Shanghai. I could experience the kind hospitality of Chinese people while visiting AFS National Office, 2 schools and the Office of Changzhou Education Bureau Deputy Director. I experienced the richness of Chinese food, which I have found to be an art, super delicious and diverse, as well as the culture of tea and meal etiquette.
I saw the traffic at rush hour with buses and trains full of people, and the incredible security measures. I was able to visit beautiful temples and connect with China’s ancient history, philosophy, values and traditions.
It was incredible seeing AFS students at the end of their experience speaking Mandarin with local volunteers and crying because they had to go back to their countries, while saying goodbye to their hosting families. To me, this really demonstrated how, if we are willing to, we can all really understand each other, be tolerant and learn to live together in this paradoxical world.
I am with my heart full of knowledge about the top 3 cities of China and I will leave with a sweet and sour taste in my mouth and in my mind, for what I have seen and experienced in this one week is too complex to express in a couple of words.
Happy to take part in PEACE project!