Monday, July 08, 2019

A Personal Reflection On Our Recent Travel to China

Hi Friends,
Angela Valenzuela, Institute for Higher
Education, Beijing University, China

It was been awhile since I've blogged.  Just returned from spending three weeks in China. What an  incredible experience.  I was a guest lecturer at the Institute of Higher Education at Beihang University in Beijing, China.  I especially enjoyed getting to know the masters and doctoral students and faculty at Beihang University.  
Sun Wei and Yonghong Ma
and me

Thankfully, since most students study English for many years throughout China, they understood most of what I was saying and when I wasn't communicating, they relied on each other for translations or we relied on phone apps like iTranslate to help us out.  Not unlike our own students in the U.S., they, too, seek to make a positive difference in the world through what they research and write.  I sincerely look forward to future collaborations.

I very much appreciate Dr. Yonghong Ma and Sun Wei for making this possible and look forward to future collaborations.  Aside from visits to historical sights in Beijing, my husband, Emilio Zamora, and I managed to travel to Xi'an, Zhangjiajie, and Shanghai.  It was great having Emilio with me to compare notes, figure things out, and to share in the experience, as whole.  China is a beautiful country with warm, friendly, and loving people—and a world-class cuisine, to boot.  

Emilio and me at
Highlights were the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Terracotta Army at Xi'an and the breathtaking “Hallelujah Mountains” from the movie, “Avatar,” actually of Zhangjiajie, China, made famous by James Cameron as the mythic land of “Pandora.”  On this same trip, we rode the longest, highest, and steepest tramway in the world up to “Heaven’s Gate,” the world-renowned site for skydivers that fly through it—a few to their deaths, tragically.

Terracotta Army at Xi'an
If you ever want to travel in China, I strongly recommend traveling with “China Travel Guide Tours.” Unless you know what you’re doing and can speak the language, it’s pretty hard to travel around the country without a travel guide or guides to pick you up at train stations, airports, and tourist locations. 

Every guide we had was professional, knowledgeable, conversational, and tuned in to the finer details like eating times and places, bio breaks, travel options, and the diverse cultural heritage performances, museums, archeological sites, and the like.

Now we return to our regular lives in Texas, including—for myself—this blog.  Personally, I have much to ponder about China and I'm not ready to write about it. I return with many more questions than answers and realize anew how our country is systematically deprived of  knowledge about a main geopolitical powerhouse in the world with an interesting, ancient history and culture.  

While there, we heard scholars, pundits, and  politicos talking excitedly about a "Greater Asia," as well as building alliances with countries throughout the world.  

Where is the U.S. in all of this?  Our country is going in the opposite direction, and very much to our detriment.  Why aren't we teaching Mandarin in our schools?  Why do we know precious little about China's peoples and history?  We could, of course, extend these same questions to so many other places, including India that is slotted to surpass China in population in the not-too-distant future (Ritchie, 2019).
The celestial mountains of

While many in the U.S, are critical about China's so-called insularity, we fail to note our own and our structured ignorance and silences about one of the world's most populous and influential nations that manages to put food on the table daily for over 1.4 billion people.  

I remain genuinely fascinated and interested in all that I learned and look forward to deepening my learning and understanding in the weeks, months, and years to come.  I am so grateful and deeply honored to have been this year's visiting scholar at Beihang University.

-Angela Valenzuela


  1. Loved your reflections, Dr. Valenzuela!

  2. Thanks, Shuzan! What a beautiful country! We miss all the wonderful people that we met there. Did you read my other commentary? We learned so much!