Much has happened over the past three weeks. Even now as I am writing this on a plane back to the States, I still cannot believe that I was in China. I was in China? Yeah, I was in China; definitely in China. Yet, though the people, the culture, and the language greatly differed from what I am used to at home, this far-off and otherworldly place that I had imagined wasn’t as strange as I had always thought or as I had always been told. In fact, it was quite familiar.
“Until you have actually been there, you can’t really understand it.” This is always said and agreed with, but the past three weeks have really shown me the truth in this. Perceptions are things that we all hold; sometimes there are good ones and other times there are bad ones. In my case, I had a perception of what China was, and, well, in short, it revealed my ignorance. The diversity of China, its people, its food, etc., is so rich. With the past three weeks I feel like I was only able to slightly understand one small area of a very complex and diversified country.
“…at the core of it all I can say that this trip has sparked a genuine interest for truth, for a more complete understanding of what is happening around me.”
Before, I was (very) ignorant, maybe even more so than most, and just grouped everything in China under a single label: Chinese people, Chinese food, and Chinese culture. Just typing this, I know how wrong I was. Deeper complexities are important when trying to truly understand something, and in the case of China, looking at these complexities is essential to basic understanding. Though still lacking much knowledge, the little that I acquired during my time in Yunnan has shown me enough to totally change my outlook on this country. Growing up, it seemed like everything that I learned was one-sided and centered around one particular aspect of China and its history. Yet when I was actually there, I saw and experienced such a greater depth to what I thought I had already known, breaking some of the western-constructed perceptions and enforcing others (Oh, how great it is to actually get both sides of things … ).
I am still trying to reflect on this trip and iterate how it impacted me, but at the core of it all I can say that this trip has sparked a genuine interest for truth, for a more complete understanding of what is happening around me. I have learned that there is a great difference between knowing all the parts and truly understanding the whole. Now, I definitely do not understand all, or even a significant amount of what China is, yet generally speaking, I feel more aware. I feel more aware of the perceptions constructed by others and the need to form my own by going out and exploring for myself what is out there.
Thank you ACE for helping me to see the world through my own lenses.