Professor George Renwick was our guide, he masterfully wove a tapestry using threads from history, culture, politics, people, places, poetry, art, philosophy, past, present and future China...
He shared wisdoms from 2,500 years ago
He painted pictures and told stories
He taught us new words, their meanings, origins and symbols
He introduced us to Henry Kissinger, A Tiger Mother, diplomats, scientists and former Chinese presidents who shared their reflections on China and its people.
He told a story, painted images, and left us with wisdoms from 2,500 years ago
Now, I sit reflecting on everything that was presented. We did not stick to the traditional US Cultural Style and try to move from Point A -----> Point B in a linear style. Our discussions, his presentation and the topics flowed outwards and back around, in a circular motion. Pulling things together, showing their reference, reliance upon each other and relationship.
Everything in China seems to be about relationship, symbols, meaning and connectedness.
The word for Morning, is the symbols for Tree + Sun together. When is the Sun behind the Trees? in the morning...
The way to say "Hello" in Chinese is: nǐ hǎo
In Chinese the characters to write hǎo are two symbols together, woman + child.
So even represented in their language - that which is good shows the value of family, relationship and connectedness.
I learned about the importance to roles, duty and the collectivist perspective of life. The importance of your role in a group and to play out your responsibilities. That success for the group was success for everyone. That failure for one person, was failure for the group. Furthermore, a group needs a defined, appointed leader - inherent in the unifying qualities of GROUP collectivity, an important role is a Single leader to give direction to the group.
I became extremely aware of how individualistic and completely direct I am as a US born and culturally educated person. For people in the US, the idea of a dictator and single leader is far more uncomfortable for us, than it is for the Chinese. From their cultural perspective, this is a necessary and vital role for their system of organizing themselves.
A team without a leader, is not stable or secure - very important values for the Chinese.
We learned some impressive numbers as well!
- From 1950 - 1980 China doubled in population! It went from 500 million - 1 billion. In the next 30 years 1980 - 2010 it has grown to 1.3billion
- In the last 20 years there has been a migration of 150million Chinese out of the rural inland areas and into more urban Eastern cities
- In the next 15 years, China will build ten new cities each the size of New York City
- 1/2 of the clothing provided to the entire world is Made in China
- 1/2 of the shoes provided to the world is Made in China
- 2/3 of DVD, Microwaves and Photocopiers provided to the world are Made in China
GREEN CITY, outside of Shanghai on an island. You are probably familiar with the impressive capacity of China of mass reproduction. For many cultural and contextual reasons, this is very true. For creating replication, first there must be a MODEL, and that is exactly what the Chinese are doing. They are building an environmental, green city as a Model... and for future building projects city planners will be invited, not just from all over China, but from all over the world.
I hope you enjoyed your journey with me to China.