By Lauren Bluthardt
I was welcomed into the most necessary career at this point in history — journalism — roughly one year ago. My school’s publication, the Tom Tom, is our community’s pride and joy. As a member of our magazine, I work as a senior editor and continue to love every minute of what I do.
In August 2017, my journalism program at Antioch Community High School in Antioch, Illinois was fortunate enough to be invited to travel nearly 7,000 miles to immerse ourselves in Chinese culture, where we gobbled up the fascinating scenery, people and landmarks.
Our adventures included visits to Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Olympic Village in Beijing and Disneyland Shanghai.
Walking around the cities and minimalistic villages allowed us to see two sides of China — the new and the old. Modern 21st-century shops contrasted with foot-wide alleyways where generations of residents have lived. Each block had a different tone to it. Few areas have been left untouched throughout time, but the areas that have showed the depth of Chinese history.
Besides the sightseeing, a key part of our itinerary was to work alongside the Chinese students.
For three consecutive days at Duke Kunshan University, we established lasting friendships with the students, allowing us to shed our insecurities and open up to places, beliefs and ways of life that were different from our own. We compared interests in movies, hangout spots, music and even fashion.
We even ventured into downtown Shanghai with the students to help them build their own stories by teaching them how to interview, take notes and make videos. The most profound part of the trip was sharing what we all believe it means to be a journalist in this day and age.
We expected to just meet the students, but what we left the Shanghai Pudong airport with was the knowledge of knowing these students. Twenty years from now, we will still be able to recite the names and remember the faces behind those names all because of the bonds we were able to form.
I have reminisced about the sights and smells of each prominent landmark, city corner and mango cream smoothie shop. Few people in my town will be able venture to the bustling cities of Beijing, Shanghai or the river city of Zhejiang Jiaxing.
Because of this experience, I will be the China editor for Global Student Square. I can’t wait to meet students across the world and hear their stories. I can now help share the top news stories from China, with the incorporation of Chinese students’ lives, and share their beliefs with the world. This will allow myself and others to learn more about Chinese politics, social norms and the economy of a region unfamiliar to much of the world.
Do you have any questions about China? Leave a comment and feel free to contact me. I would love to contact the students and have them answer your questions.