Just when I prepared myself for thronging crowds and smoky streets, Beijing springs a surprise on me. The Silicon Valley of People’s Republic of China stands out for its beautiful architecture, superb restaurants and clear blue skies. The Peking University students tell me that I should be thankful for the clear blue skies as they were as rare as a blue moon prior to the big clean up in preparation for the 2008 Green Olympics.
My course at the Peking University has been intense, but fun. Our class of about 40 students had representatives from 25 countries. It has been a most amazing experience to interact with students from so many different cultures with diverse backgrounds. We formed small teams to work on our final projects, and it was inspiring to see how many interesting ideas we came up with when we put our heads together. We also had the chance to talk to several prominent businessmen who have started their own enterprises in China about the prospects in the Chinese economy. They explained to us the obscure concept of guanxi, communication difficulties, cultural barriers and other problems a foreign businessman would face in China. At the end of the day, we all had a better understanding of Chinese culture, economy and political environment.
Beijing is undoubtedly a very intriguing city. The Great Wall of China at Mutianyu is awe-inspiring to say the least. Some other amazing places I visited are the Museum at Ming Tombs, the Forbidden City and the TianAnmen Square. At the Jade Gallery, I had the chance to check out how jade jewelleries and artefacts are made from the raw jade stone, and how the ring of jade was inserted in the 2008 Olympic medals. The Wangfujing Street is home to many curious shops including the Shengxifu Hat Shop that has been in place since 1911.The stalls on Food Street sell everything from crispy scorpion fries to worm kebabs.
The Summer School in China has been a very enriching and educational journey, and we all feel nostalgic as we bid goodbye to each other. Dr Fei Qin concluded the course by quoting Dr Suess from ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go’:
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street……..
Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest………………
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t………
You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!”