In this trip I had the chance to visit multiple cities in China, including Nanjing, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong (although many don’t consider it as China). We also visited a couple of other smaller cities that surround Nanjing. In about three weeks I had opportunity to see multiple different facets of China: beautiful, rich, super rich, extremely rich, in-development, in-rapid-development, poor, very poor, extremely poor, among others.
But one thing was common among them all: its people. I’m 40 years old and have visited several countries in all parts of the globe, having had the opportunity to live in three other countries in addition to my home country Brazil. I have to say, the whole world and every nation should go and learn from the Chinese. They are the most respectful, hospitable, helpful (not only that, but willing to help all the time), kind, warm, gentle, joyful (and all other positive adjectives) people I’ve ever met.
In the other hand, we also have a lot of differences. Differences in the way they do business, how they eat, their behavior in public places, just to name a few.
Business over Tea
Food (exotic, delicious, strange, challenging, variety…)
Peking Duck in Beijing
Snack Street in Beijing
Noodles and Hot Pot in Nanjing
There were also things that I didn’t like about China, in particular: traffic, pollution and smoke. The traffic is crazy and after a few DiDi trips (their version of Uber), although the service is very effective, the ETA for almost all trips are not real. It’s common to take twice the time it shows in the app once you call your car. The traffic is really bad. Especially in Beijing! Pollution is also terrible everywhere and it’s common to see people wearing breathing masks. I myself had problems, spent almost three weeks coughing even though I was taking Benadryl before bed every night. And how about smoking allowed everywhere!? They smoke in elevators, restaurants, offices, taxis, etc. The only place smoking is prohibited is in the train. Their railroad service is great, very efficient! From Nanjing to Beijing (more than 1000 Kilometers) took me less than 3.5 hours in a high-speed train. With all these differences, from now on I respect all western people that live in China. The country and its people are amazing but to move and live there would be an stretched challenge for me. Again, I loved the experience and maybe in a different time of my life I would enjoy living in China for a couple years.
To wrap up this blog post, I wanted to make special mentions to a few people that I met in China and had great impact in my life. BTW, did I mention that the Chinese are also very thoughtful?
First, this girl called Catherine. In the last day of class, during the closing ceremony, she cried and I cried with her. I kept saying to her during the two weeks we were in Nanjing that she was a little angel.
Here’s a note she wrote for me so I could go to the train station by myself to take a trip to Beijing. She kept saying she was concerned and worried that people would not speak English. She guided me throughout my trip to Beijing and back to Nanjing to make sure I was safe.
In this snipt she’s helping us buy tickets to go to Shanghai: IMG_4836
Catherine also introduced us to her boyfriend Lyu. What a nice guy! He spent a lot of time with us too.
In our last night in Nanjing Lyu and Catherine helped me achieving three goals of mine since my first day there: (1) see the beautiful Xuanwu Lake, (2) eat crawfish and (3) ride a bicycle. 🙂 Here’s me eating crawfish and at the lake.
Second, these two kids that were in my group, Krystal and Park. For two weeks they shared their stories, their dreams, their culture and their lives with me. And I’m taking every minute of it with me for the rest of my life!
On the last day of class they also brought tears to my eyes. They first wrote the sound of my name in traditional Chinese. Then they took that to a place that makes stampers in a piece of Chinese rock and got one for me! They said that from now on I should no longer sign my name but instead I should stamp it in traditional Chinese.
Last but not least, Max (Ding fei). I think I found a brother from another mother, a Chinese one! One thing that I didn’t mention during the introductions on the first day of class (I only said that people call me “Handsome”, true right?). My childhood nickname when I was little back in Brazil was “China”. The story goes more or less like this: my dad worked for Yamaha, a Japanese company. His boss had a daughter of my age. During the company celebrations I would play with that little girl. My siblings would make fun of me saying that she was my girlfriend. Then they started to call me Japan. And I would hate it and get very upset. For some reason someone started calling me China. And that became my nickname, to this date family members and friends still call me “China”. In fact, look me up on Instagram: “ChinaZubi”. 🙂
Anyways, let’s talk about Max. I think I cried when I hugged him before leaving my hotel in Shanghai on the way to the airport. I probably didn’t show because Hannah was going to the airport with me on the same DiDi. And it wouldn’t be nice for a 40-years old, married man father of two, to cry for a Chinese man he didn’t know three weeks back. Yes, Max is all that and more! He would call me around midnight to tell me he had ordered Noodles and wanted to check if I was hungry. In the mornings he would send voice messages to say good morning and to check that I was doing OK. I loved meeting this guy. We exchanged a lot of stories about our lives and in everything there was this incredible bond between us. BTW, I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel like that about Max. Probably most of students from US and India will say similar things about him.
Max is also very fun and funny! What a sense of humor he has!
Anyways, I think I’ve written to much but really hope this post can help someone in deciding whether or not to go attend this great program in China. Yes, please go!
On a final (final!) note, the academic curricula was great and at appropriate level. I think both undergrad and grad students from several different fields benefited from the content delivered. The multiple group exercises, case-studies and team project introduced a lot of mixed topics and made the session very dynamic. Field activities such as visiting the incubator and the Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications new campus were also a plus. The only thing that I think would be better was to reduce the amount of guest speakers in lieu for more time for the teams to work on their projects. To me the most important aspect of this program is the opportunity to meet people from very different backgrounds and cultures, while at the same time work on the same set of projects and problems with them. This enables one to understand and recognize that there are different perspectives to the variety of problems our world faces today. I am sure that this enriched environment contributes a lot to the development of “to be” entrepreneurs that think about innovation on a global scale.
Here’s Mr. Handsome in hist last presentation and receiving his certificate of completion.