The theme of this trip for me was "understanding." I gained many insights about the universities, development, and culture. I felt the university visits provided great teachings from the professors and discussion with the students. I wanted to understand how the government provided services, and Professor Li's presentation on public health at Peking University was a great example. Learning about the process of healthcare reform, along with the considerations about making each decision, was eye-opening. It was an intricate balance of working within the government system, looking for advancements within and outside the country, and diffusing the information to all levels. At Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, I really liked my interchanges with the doctoral students as we discussed political concerns in the United States and China. The vast array of interests was exciting from space exploration, Africa, and of course, U.S.-China relations.
In all three cities, we had the opportunity to witness various levels of development. It was helpful to get an overview of the massiveness and growth of Shanghai at the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center. In addition, it was helpful to see the future economic growth of Xi'an at the High-Tech Industries Development Zone. I enjoyed seeing the big picture of the cities and plans. Also, I saw the role and advancements of the private sector, including Huawei Company and the automobile partnerships with General Motors. Visiting these companies made me think more about trade between the U.S. and China.
The presentation and discussion at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai discussed how policies in China affect international businesses. Some issues were attracting Chinese students who study in the U.S. back to China in order to serve a very needed and valuable role at U.S. companies based in China, navigating international business with Internet restrictions, and the concerns about how to attract local talent with some limitations on moving to other areas. I was not aware of these concerns, but I think it is so helpful to hear about the many successes and think about ways to overcome some challenges. Since I come from a U.S. perspective, it was so helpful to hear from government officials so that I could understand more about the one-party system. It broadened my view on how the government functions and cares for its people. I also better understood how individual-based society versus a community-based society address the same issues in different ways. It was so helpful to gain a better understanding about these perspectives.
I definitely learned more about the culture of the past and present. I found the history concerning the emperors very fascinating. Specifically, the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Army, the Huaqing Hot Springs, and the Shannxi Historical Museum offered a multitude of insights about this time in history. I also learned about some of the religious diversity in China when we visited the Great Mosque of Xi'an. In addition, the editors from China Daily provided a great overview of the current news and workings in China. Overall, the culture, development, and universities provided me with a wonderful first experience with China. I definitely have a new understanding of China, and I look forward to future partnerships. Thank you so much for such a remarkable opportunity!
Shaniece is currently a Presidential Public Service Fellow and MC/MPA Candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Before entering Kennedy School, she received a Doctor of Science (ScD) from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She will be an Assistant Professor of Health Sciences at Furman University in Fall 2016. Shaniece was a participant of the Harvard Kennedy School Study Group China Visit 2016.