My project was a Global May trip to China. We studied Chinese ethnic minority groups at Southwest University for Minorities in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. Additionally, we travelled throughout southern China to visit and explore multiple sacred lands and temples.
Before going to China, I had no idea that Chinese culture was so diverse. I learned that 95% of the Chinese population is of the Han ethnic group and the Han culture is the culture that the western world has been exposed to. This is why my trip was so incredible, I learned about multiple ethnic groups and even got to experience different historical cultural practices. My view of China was impacted greatly; I became aware that Chinese culture is not simple, and that their history has an incredible impact on the culture that exists today.
Personally, this trip caused a change in me. I became more confident as I navigated my way through city streets, knowing not a single word of mandarin Chinese, I became more aware of the impact of globalization on ethnic minorities in a country other than my own, and I also found myself to be more interested in this same phenomenon of cultural loss occurring in my own country.
The more impactful part of this project was the friendship that I made with my Chinese counter part, A Wu. A Wu is a student at the SWUN university in Chengdu. She took the time to teach me about her ethnic background and accepted our differences without hesitation. It was so inspiring to me to see a young person who is so interested in her history and her ethnic groups culture.
A Wu’s passion for her culture inspired me to look deeper not only into my own families history but also into the history of other ethnic groups around the world. Since the trip I have studied more about Chinese ethnic groups and their history of resilience in preserving their practices. I’ve also become more interested in discovering the ways in which globalization is devastating small ethnic groups and ways that these groups are trying to combat globalization.
Additionally, our excursion to mountain villages opened my eyes to what felt like an entirely different world. I witnessed poverty in levels that I had never witnessed before and as heartbreaking as it was, it was also eye-opening. We spent a week working with students in a high school who came from these impoverished conditions, we worked on their english and exchanged personal experiences about our different cultures. This “culture” swap allowed us to find not only differences in our lifestyles and cultures, but also the similarities.
These experiences will have an impact on my future because it really changed the way that I view the world. I have a broader perspective on the importance of preserving cultures and the impact of globalization on different countries. As a student of the Ohio State University I encounter people from multiple different countries every day, and because of this project I now have a better understanding of the backgrounds that some of those students may come from and I will be better able to empathize and understand who they are as an individual because of this.