LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
I didn't know what to expect from my DKU semester when I arrived at the Kunshan South Train Station in August 2014. Although excited, I had no expectations. If anything, I was slightly hesitant toward what I anticipated to be the clash of two worlds: the American education system versus Chinese culture.
In China, Sino-foreign schools are a new phenomenon, and only five have officially been established so far. Among these DKU happens to be the newest one. There was no information online as to what it would be like to attend a school with international and Chinese students, American professors, an American style education and staff that came from both countries. As someone who tends to look up every detail that pertains to a school before attending it, this came as a disappointment. Little did I know that I was in for a semester full of more intellectual stimulation and an expansion to my global outlook than I had ever experienced before. One memory comes to mind that exemplifies exactly what I mean by this statement.
Early on in the semester, one of my classmates found a “barbecue” shop. The food was nothing similar in taste to American barbecue, however. The menu consisted of meats and vegetables cooked on a grill and battered in spicy sauce. Often times during weekends, a group of us would go out for midnight “barbecue.” On one night, eight of us took out onto the streets for barbecue, but that night the conversation was anything but light. We sat and discussed the prospects of political change in the Chinese government system, the system itself and minority groups within American society. We compared this system to that of India, Vietnam, and the United States. We discovered that most of our Chinese counterparts were satisfied with their government because it was working in keeping the population majority comfortable. This rhetoric was surprising to us international students because it stood in contrast to that of the common negative rhetoric of the Chinese government found in our countries. We all listened and considered each other’s contrasting opinions as we shared our meal and drinks.
Moments like these exemplify how schools like DKU will begin to positively affect the U.S.-China relationship. When students from different cultures can wrestle with important questions together in a casual settings, this only perpetuates an understanding of different viewpoint that pales in comparison to none. I believe that in the future governance of our world, experiences such as these will bring about subtle changes in the way policy makers might approach relationships with other world actors and players. One can only hope.