Yesterday we played tourists and visited the Great Wall and the Summer Palace. We followed this with dinner with the Loyola students and two of our alumni, John Hanrahan and Brian Marana, each of whom is a graduate of the Beijing Center program (and of Loyola!). Both of our alumni have stayed in Asia to work—Brian in the Phillipines and John here in Beijing.
Father and I were impressed with the students, who were gracious hosts. Most impressive was their orientation in the large: the way in which they approach their lives. They are reflective, aware of their trajectories and possible futures, and informed of the world at levels that are well beyond what one might expect from persons their ages. Though the topics ranged greatly, conversation centered often on issues associated with human cultures, expectations, communication, and difference and commonality. Much of what the students have learned here, while seated within and about Asia, will translate well to our “world” within the United States.
The students are here for different reasons. Some seek knowledge about Asia that will help them in their future careers (e.g., in Asian business, commerce, language, or culture); some are here for reasons of identity (having Asian heritage); others are here for personal and global exploration.
Though Beijing is known for its swift growth and modernization, much of what goes on here remains distinct, hence it requires a certain bravery, which all of these students possess. That said, I know that many of them did not arrive with the comfort and wisdom they now exude. They spoke positively about how the Beijing Center welcomed and oriented them, offering a seamless bridge for those who arrived with trepidation. No matter what their paths, though, the students, to a person, expressed joy over their experience here. When they return to Loyola (most will return following the fall semester), they will be available to discuss their experience with anybody seeking to know more. (Were I a student, I would come here in a heartbeat!)
Father has the camera with the evening pictures of the students; I am guessing he will post that soon (if he has not already!). Here are a few shots from the tourist jaunts.
This is a sort of art shot I took in one of the buildings in the Summer Palace—a seasonal getaway site for the Ming imperial court.