Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Why China?

I'm getting a lot of this two word question lately. My 10 month internship is coming to a close and my 18 month stay in China only has 3 weeks left. I am preparing to finish my MBA specialization in the Fall and participate in the job search. Of course everyone is curious as to where I will sign that first contract, and brace yourselves Mom and Dad, but it is most likely China.

I've naturally spent enormous amounts of time thinking and talking about this, but I think the reasoning is pretty simple. There are 2 main reasons why I'd want to stay here, at least for the short term:

A) It's Interesting

Who doesn't want to be stimulated every day? Not be bored with what's around you? Maybe I've been "ruined" by living abroad, but I come back to the U.S. and am bored. I look like other people around me, I act and think like people around me, I like the same foods and movies, I understand the language and know how to do all the processes needed for everyday life. I don't have most of that comfort in China, for all the good (learning and adventure) and bad (annoyances and mistakes) that may bring.

I like the way one author put it: "I went to China to get a glimpse of the new China, and the more years I spent there, the more work that vision required. The silver lining was that I also saw America clearly for the first time, as well as my own, private Americanness, in the reflected views of the Chinese. China showed me America's place in the world." (Rachel Dewoskin) America brings consumerism, capitalism, freedom and immorality all in one package, seducing the young and ambitious while being rejected by the old and traditional. The shifting generations are now separated by a cultural divide, just like many of the foreigners that have lived over here for an extended period of time.

Regardless, it's a non-stop road of learning about yourself and others. One which I'm not quite ready to give up because living in the U.S. might be more comfortable.

The second reason for my answer to "Why China?"-

B) I'm Interesting

Call it selfish, but I like living here because I'm unique. Put me in the U.S. next to any of the thousands of type-As pouring out of MBA schools, and I'm just another young, Caucasian girl with very little full-time work experience on her resume. However, you put me in China and it's a whole different story. I have a western education that I can share and communicate to the local people in their own language. These differences that admittedly cause a lot of headaches and staring actually become the sparks for conversations, new friends, opportunities and job offers.

And like I said above, I'm learning how this being different constantly teaches you who you are and what you're made of. I certainly never hear of exceptional people that blended in perfectly with the maybe that means the path to exceptional is the path that's different. Who knows, the fun is in finding out.

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