I’m writing this post from the airport trying to digest all the excitement, adventures, insights, and friendships developed during this trip. It’s difficult to put into words the feelings you go through when you are away from home for so long and you dive into an accelerated learning experience in a country that is so fascinating as China. I do have to say, it was totally worth it.
Looking back, I think China has great potential and looking at the business side makes you understand the excitement of its potential. China is doing a lot of good things but also has huge challenges ahead. From the second you land you can not only see the pollution but you can feel it. Business practices contradict so many things that we have learned in our western world. Human Rights are definitely an issue and as the country advances they will have to address these rights. As the only LGBT member of the group, I can say this is not the place where you will find equal opportunity. Westerners wanting to do business in China have to understand all of these issues and adapt their ways to fit better as they should not expect China to change (although I think some things will change).
In terms of friendship, this was a marvelous experience. I went to China not knowing most of the people and left with twenty one wonderful friendships. One of the things I will remember the most is that we were a YES group, from trying any kind of food (including scorpions) to taking, what felt like, a pretty dangerous toboggan ride to get down from the Great Wall. Of course, there are other memorable moments including (in no particular order):
- searching for a lost Yu
- sitting in a government meeting in Xi’an not knowing what the heck was going on (we all had name plates and were arranged by some unknown sorting algorithm and negotiation style q&a)
- rushing for food in between meetings without knowing what we were doing
- the endless questions of Zhenyu (granted they were all great :))
- eating very very strange foods
- our tour guides Arthur “the nice guy”, Tony “the noodle man” and Candy
- Alex’s sarcasm
- Jeff’s jumping up all around
- the endless food at dinners
- sharing the flu (everybody got sick at some point)
- metro ride in a rainy day during rush hour
- And many more…
I hope to see my friends back again soon, as for China I have no idea when I can be back but for now I will treasure this experience.