Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Glimpse into the Professional Experience

First of all, let us begin by apologizing for not having updated this blog sooner. Life in China is just a little slower than life elsewhere and a combination of long days and the logistics of getting on the internet have made it a little difficult. Our first few postings will all be dedicated to getting you, our friends and family, caught up to date on some of our more memorable activities.

Almost as soon as we arrived on the ground, we began working on some of the details of the Internationalization of Higher Education Conference. The conference was located in International Conference Center of Qingdao University, which doubled as the hotel that we stayed in (fortunately, the air conditioner kicked in just as soon as the conference did). For most of us, this was our first opportunity to be a part of a conference like this one and I’m not sure any of us knew what to expect.

There wasn’t really any specific job description for us in the first few preparation days, but each person found skills that came in handy. Each team of two was assigned a room during the conference and asked to assist the speakers for that room in any way necessary.

One of the highlights of the conference included a speech by Dr. Eric Motley, Director of the Office of International Visitors at the U.S. Department of State, who shared his personal story about how the encouragement of a community took him from poverty to success.

One of the things that many of us realized during the conference is that the professional who travels the world does not always have the opportunity, because of limits on time and professional obligations, to experience a culture in its truest sense. We also remembered that China is a big place and each city, even each neighborhood has its own idiosyncrasies, so that it is not possible to define China through a visit to just one city or even to hundreds of cities. Each individual perspective and experience is a world unto itself, and so as we have continued our time and begun our work in ethnography, it is good for us to remember that our purpose is tell the story of the individual, and leave the defining of the whole to Chinese themselves.

The Apprentice – C5


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