I keep coming across amazing blogs of people who are/have been living in China as expats. I wonder why so many people document their experiences this way. Well, I am not an exception myself.
The culture of China is rather drastically different from the Western affluent culture. The country is still in the process of modernizing and building, and growing. This morning I woke up with an intention to go for a run on a country road nearby, but the road was blocked by cement mixer machines. Later, I cycled to the nearby park and decided to go a little further, and while doing that, I passed a couple of apartment complexes that were being build.
China is in its own industrial revolution now. The contrasts strike – mercedes, old dirty cars and plain tricycles is a daily reality. But this is a modern reality. People who drive such cars for most part are not ‘old money’. They could be called ‘self-made man’ whose parents grew up in hardships and in a completely different system.
An expat, who is dropped from his/her safe world by 6-12 h plane ride, find quite a different reality here, and writing is one of the best ways to process or simply document ones own experiences. Some people manage to make a living out of. Some probably do it out of fun. Other…I don’t know
As for me, a person from a post-soviet country, who grew up in a family and a city that was strongly affected by Lithuania’s transition from planned to market economy, I find some similarities in the way how people live, in their daily struggles. Yet, even having some resemblance, the history, geographical location and size of Lithuania make it a very different context. Plus, it is just the context. And there is culture too. Quite a different culture. Having no other foreigners around and not being able to talk through all of the cultural/change shock, it is really a way to process all of the things that are happening around.
A funny thing is that I wanted to actually write this post not to babble about my own experience or observations, but to share one discovery – a book by an American who taught in Fuling for two years – that I found via an expat blog. I have not read the book, but youtube video with the author convinces me that it is worth to get it.
Peter Hessler wrote a book ” Two Years on the Yangtze”, and then a couple more on life in China. In the youtube video below he analyzes the Chinese society and socio-economic changes that have been taking place.
Worth watching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGRxHQRK8xo
Also, he wrote a couple of articles in National Geographic magazine – a really interesting read on China’s society: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/05/china/journey/hessler-text
One more thing that is inspiring me about him is his motivation – to go and serve people. He truly got to know his students and kept in contact with them.
I hope to care for my students too.