China (~3,705,000 square miles) is about the same size as the US (~3,797,000 square miles). Imagine trying to get a full picture of the US in just 3 months, impossible right? How do you capture the essence of NYC, rural Appalachia, and Silicon Valley? How do you capture the beauty of Yosemite, the Great Lakes and the mighty Redwoods? How do you discuss the gun violence epidemic, (mis)treatment of Native American populations, race relations, immigration, etc? You can’t cover all this in 3 short months. So when designing a semester for the equally complex and diverse nation of China we must be intentional with the planning of our route. We have more than enough resources and contacts to stay in eastern, Mandarin speaking China, so why go to Tibet? We go to show the complexity and incredible diversity of China. China is so much more than the impressive mega cities of Beijing or Shanghai that fill our news feeds. China is so much more than the factory cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen or Tianjin that fill our shopping malls. China is so much more than the 105+ day trade war or the stationing of US warships in the South China Sea that fill our politicians with concern.
China’s history is complicated and much like America’s its filled with past, recent and present issues that none of us are proud to talk about. Only by visiting places like Tibet here in China or by starting conversations around race, Native American history/current affairs, etc. in the US can we start to take a critical look at our history and take action to make a change.
Here are a couple videos of our last week in Tibet.
Langmusi (a town we stopped over in for 2 night to break up the long drive from Rebgong to Chengdu)