Dr. Xiaowen Zhang works as an associate professor in the political science department of Augustana College. Together with 80 Augustana College students, she traveled to China as part of a 5-week study abroad program. In her talk on November 22nd, she presented the observations they made during the trip.
Dr. Zhang is a native of Beijing, but she said, that this trip gave her the opportunity to discover many new things, as she traveled to places she had never been before. And the students had a chance to “experience full exposure to China”. They were impressed by Chinese infrastructure with high-speed trains and elaborate subway networks, cheap food and friendliness towards Americans. Not all experiences were positive however, the students were appalled by the traffic, air pollution and poor sanitary conditions of some public places.
Other topics Dr. Zhang covered in her talk included booming real estate projects, internet censorship, energy conservation efforts and tightened control of academic freedom. She also discussed the challenges faced by China today – slowing economic growth, aging population, corruption, inequality and separatist movements – as well as the implications of China’s role in the world.
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