Written by Annlin, High School/Pre-College Student Correspondent for JSA Diplomat Program in Beijing, Summer 2018*
As this program is wrapping up, we find ourselves thinking back to the first few days we spent here. Frankly, I never expected this trip to change me so much. We were fortunate enough to hear from many speakers about how they brought their dreams to life in China. Some told us how they found themselves here and others told us how they were able to be themselves. All of them had a lot of inspiring advice to give us, which was possibly the best advice anyone could give a high-schooler who is beginning to think about their future. I can speak on behalf of my classmates when I say that during this trip, we learned more about ourselves and that we want China to be a part of our lives in the future.
Personally, this experience has affected me a lot. When I was younger, it was my dream to become a performing artist because I love to sing and dance. People always say to dream big. However, it took me a while to realize that my dream was not practical and realistic enough to pursue in the United States. I understood that it is very difficult for Asian Americans to break into that industry and be represented more in media. I still believe that I would have a very slim chance in the US. But meanwhile in China, I am constantly hearing about how this country is full of opportunities and how Beijing is changing so quickly that it is really open to anything. I was also really inspired by Jesse Appell’s story. He came to China to live out his dream of doing Chinese comedy and it’s working out for him now. Before, I always had this mentality that China was really uptight and wasn’t this open. However, now I know that is not true. Thus, I’ve decided to pursue the dream that I had once buried here in China. I’m ready to dream big.
I’m not the only one that has been deeply affected. Swetha, a student who is extremely fascinated by Chinese language and culture, discovered her passion for Chinese social media while here. This experience has taught her how she can turn a hobby into a career. Seeing the many opportunities in China has opened her eyes to the many possibilities she has in the future. China’s fast-pace lifestyle has taught her to be open-minded to the changes. She realized that she has so much left to learn about China, and I must say that we all do, too. I hope that one day I can witness the many changes in person and watch my future unfold in the very place where my roots come from. Like the Great Wall during a rainy day, we cannot see what is beyond us, but that’s what makes the journey exciting.