Reflection on CUNY-BC Study-Abroad China Trip
by Guen Park, Provost Scholar
Chinese culture has fascinated me for a long time, possibly because my childhood hero, Jackie Chan, filmed numerous blockbusters there. So when Jody informed me about the Siegel grant that subsidizes the travel, I applied in hopes to realize my long-held dream of visiting China.
Regardless of my blind enthusiasm about the trip, precious relics that weathered through the centuries—an emblem of China’s rich cultural heritage—never failed to surprise me; at the same time, China bore modernized, sometimes even grandiose architectures that harmonized with surrounding historical structures.
Traveling five cities in three weeks with seventy other students was exciting. Our group called the attention of the locals, and thankfully we were greeted wherever we went. Despite numbingly cold weather in Beijing, the scale and architectural beauty of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City amazed us all. We later hiked a part of the Great Wall. Notoriously uneven steps took heavy tolls on our knees; but as Chairman Mao once said, it was a climb to the top that one must do, in order to become a real “hero.” That motivated most of us to complete the hike, if not for an outstanding view at the top.
Truth be told, much of our experience, beginning from Beijing to Shanghai, proved to be somewhat challenging. Spending twelve hours in an over-night train ride and adjusting to cultural differences took a while to get used to. But to a certain extent, these challenges brought us together as a group. And traveling in a group helped us share our varying opinions. Needless to say, I learned as much from other students as I learned from books or teachers. Listening to their thoughts allowed me to see a culture in multi-dimension.
Throughout the three-week journey, we bonded and looked out for each other. Perhaps, this bond was equally the great thing as the cultural experience that I got out of the program. The CUNY-BC China Program taught me to appreciate different perspectives and cultures, and I wholeheartedly recommend others to apply to the program