(3/4) Housing, in connection to better understanding how people live, is something that’s always intrigued me when traveling. Since Chengdu is not (yet) a first tier city like Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangzhou, it had a unique blend of luxurious high rises, intermixed with run-down high rise apartment buildings. My hotel was in Downtown Chengdu, but once we traveled to the outskirts of this up and coming city, it was drastically clear of the two distinct societies living here.
I could count on one hand the amount of homeless I encountered in Downtown Chengdu; this fascinated me. However, we traveled 15 minutes outside the city and it felt as though we entered a third world country. Dilapidated structures, which looked to be almost crumbling and in serious need of maintenance, lined the streets. The area was in the early stages of becoming gentrified, and this experience reminded me of what poverty looks like across different cultures.
(4/4) I cherish my time on the road because of the different perspectives I'm introduced to. I learned that for people in China, love for country is different than love for government. I was reminded that China is a racially homogenous society. Their camaraderie is something I envied. Lastly, I learned calligraphy, which reinforced how beautiful language can be.
Taking these ideas back to America, I'm left with questions. What does being ‘American’ look like? In every city, state, and coast across the country we are visibly and culturally different. There is beauty in this diversity. Opposite of differences, I thought about our commonalities. We are all unified in the fact that we have access to unlimited information, can exercise free speech, as well practice any religion we choose. If we as a nation can learn to use language appropriately, grounded in practicality and compassion, we can begin to bridge the deep divide within our country. I always enjoy my time on the road, but I'm happy to be back home.