Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lisa Bu in China

Lisa Bu, our intrepid and magnificent Here on Earth web producer, was invited by her alma mater, the UW Madison Business School, to guide a group of MBA students on a seven day tour of China last month. She came back with the following report:

"I spent a week in Beijing as translator/guide for a UW-Madison MBA class. The trip is an eye-opening experience for many students and even me, a native Chinese. This is my first real visit of the city since I was five. I know from media that the city has changed tremendously, but seeing it with my own eyes is different. The sheer scale and speed of the development takes my breath away. At the same time it concerns us when we see how serious the pollution is. The sky is almost never blue but gray and fuzzy, even in the mountain area where the Great Wall is. Safe drinking water is another issue. We had to be very careful only to drink bottled water, and buy water from trusted vendors. I joked that bottled water had become my new security blanket -- can't go anywhere without it.

Another unexpected experience I have is how proud I felt being a Chinese when visiting the Temple of Heaven and the Great Wall for the first time. Much larger and taller than seen on TV or photos, they stood in front of me like a magnificent but silent giant. I was in awe, as if having just witnessed the emergence of an ancient hero from a storybook picture to a live figure with flesh and blood. The giant looked so familiar yet so new at the same time. Through my life, I have seen its pictures and read its stories thousands of times. Yet touching its wood and stones and taking in its air and smell, I felt as if I was making acquaintance with this magnificent giant for the very first time. Although it can't speak, it's living and breathing. History has never been so vivid and direct. I could hear its heartbeat. And I knew that's the heartbeat of my ancestors, that's the heartbeat I'm carrying in my body. I felt so proud. "

Lisa and a UW Business School student shopping for clean bottled water in Beijing where the temperature was typically near 100 degrees. Lisa said water became her "security blanket."

After Beijing, Lisa went to visit her family in her hometown of Changsha, a city of 6 million in Hunan Province. Here you can see a remnant of the old city side by side with the ever-present evidence of construction that is so typical of the new China.

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