Confucius once said, "Study the past if
you would define the future." Ever since my return from China
this has been the axiom of my life. I see this trip as having
two pasts: a "pre-past" and a "post-past".
While I was on the trip, I was in the present studying the past
of China. After the trip, I was in the present studying the past
of the trip. The past of China helped me understand my roots and
background and the past of the trip is helping me weave Chinese
influences into my future.
As a descendant of Yueh Fei and having deep paternal roots in
China, stepping foot onto Chinese soil truly amazed me and left
me with a sense of completeness. Many of things I learned related
to how Chinese people lived life back in the early days and I
found some similarities such as respecting elders and creating
strong ties within the family and with religion as well. I also
realized how different life is today because I do not need to
walk for miles to fetch water from a well or sleep on rock hard
beds (from a very good Chinese movie "Road Home" that
I saw before). Every day I think about the China trip, I also
think about the Romans and the Mayans and Aztecs. Those three
groups along with the ancestors of China helped pave the way for
modern life as we know it today by setting down rules and regulations,
formulating technologies, and doing the same things then as we
The actual trip to China is now in my past and I have learned
a lot from it as well. First, there were the necessary social
skills that I honed while on the trip. With 23 other kids on the
trip, the faster you learned names and faces, the easier the trip
became. Second, I used this trip as a preparation for college.
Some days we would do things that were boring or not quite as
fun as other things but I still needed to sit through them and
keep a fresh attitude. Also, it was cool to be away from so much
authority for two weeks and get used to little sleep and waking
up early. Lastly, it taught me common survival skills like organizing
my own clothes in a tight situation and crossing a busy street.
Before the trip, I had never crossed a busy street before (crossing
a normal street in China is like crossing Highway 40 after a home
sports game). I acquired the skills in China and it has made college
life much easier because I need to cross semi-busy streets and
intersections to get to class.
Though I learned a lot in China, there is still much for me
to see and learn. 5,000 years of history cannot be covered in
16 days and that just gives me more of a reason to return in the
future. As a second-generation Chinese growing up in America,
it makes me glad to see that China's future seems so prosperous.
I wouldn't mind returning for another summer trip or in the future
for business. I've been a freshman at Purdue for about 4 months
now and I've enjoyed every minute of it. The China trip is a good
6 months past and yet something new about it still strikes me
every time I think about it. It truly helped me study the past
and remove all facades of it so that I could define my own future
here in America.