Enjoying the Culture

“How does our culture shape our dreams of who we are? On my first day of teaching with SABEH at Beijing No. 35 High School, I posed this question to my class. Very quickly we were immersed in a discussion, exchanging ideas about Chinese and American culture, which is exactly why I came to China.

I have been in China less than a week and already I have experienced so much of what the Chinese culture has to offer.

Food - I have tasted a delicious deep-fried pork dish, a wide variety of buns, and, of course, the “iconic” dumplings, among many other foods. I have attended a banquet complete with “traditional” toasts and seemingly endless vegetable, meat, and seafood dishes including roasted pigeon, which was new to me and thoroughly delicious.

Sights – I have visited the Summer Palace and the Forbidden City and experienced an almost sublime mix of the ancient and the modern. I have watched “aunties” dancing in unison in a small square in Beijing and men gathered on the corner smoking and playing games and getting haircuts, all of which contribute to the culture of daily life in China.

People – But it’s really the people that make China what it is. And it’s having the opportunity to interact with these people that drew me to China as a part of SABEH’s program. Interacting with my students I have learned about so many aspects of Chinese culture including what it means to teach and to learn in China. We have talked about the “Chinese Dream” and China’s hopes for the future. We have talked about what makes China China such as traditional festivals, Confucianism, and Mahjong. We have talked about life’s challenges and joys and the dream of buying a house in Beijing, and we have discussed raising a family and taking care of aging parents.

The people I have met through this program have taught me so much more than I have taught them, and I will leave this experience knowing that I have been privileged to take part in some wonderful aspects of Chinese culture.

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