My Visa is being processed in New York City, my textbooks are being shipped from various warehouses, and I sit around in Cincinnati. That sentence describes about where I am in my life right now, suspended and waiting.
If you are reading this blog, you probably are interested in the Beijing Center and want to look at Loyola’s different programs from a student perspective. I hope I can be of help to you with a student’s perspective of Beijing and the other parts of China I will be traveling to on our planned Silk Road expedition.
Well, if you are going to be reading this blog I guess I better give my credentials and background history so that you may understand better where I am coming from with my writing.
My name is Jimmy Siegel, I’m a 21 year old Senior at Loyola majoring in Religious Studies with minors in Asian World Studies, Asian Languages and Literatures, and Islamic World Studies. My major’s concentration is on dharmic centered faiths, which are religions stemming from India. I have studied abroad in India the summer of my Freshman year with a State Department Hindi Language program, and I was one of the first five inaugural students at Loyola’s new Viet Nam Center in the spring of my Sophomore year. Last year I did not travel, but instead brought an exchange student from Japan into my own home for a semester and got to know several Chinese students by being an American host student. I have taken several classes at Loyola concerning China, the latest being a history class on the Ming and Qing Dynasties. I was also in a class that focused a great deal of time on China’s Cultural Revolution. All of these experiences have shaped me in ways that will make me unique among the Loyola students in Beijing this semester and will give me different lenses with which to view things, and in turn, share with you. I will not be giving you regurgitated tour book information, but informed thoughts and stories of the experiences I have.
The nature of my major is comparing and analyzing different religions, so that may carry over to this blog. Drawing on previous knowledge, I may try to make comparisons between South Asia (India), Southeast Asia (Viet Nam), and East Asia (Beijing). You may also be reading a lot about pagodas…
This is not my first blog abroad. I wrote a blog for Viet Nam too. I was having such a great time in Viet Nam that I wasn’t as faithful to my blog as I had hoped. Let’s see if I can be more successful the second time around.
Before I leave this first entry be, I should probably answer an important question asked of many people when the go abroad. Why?
China: 4,000 years of continuous culture, ancient religions, the world’s most spoken language, new people to meet and points of view to hear, new food to try, and a chance to be in Asia for an extended period of time.
Many Americans thinking of China as a superpower is a new development. Well, history is cyclical. For hundreds of years Beijing was the center of the world. Tribute would arrive from the vassal states of Korea, Annam (Viet Nam), Burma, Tibet, Mongolia, Japan, and all over Asia. Long before Rome was conquering the Mediterranean or New York’s elite felt the wealth of the world flow through their fingers, the Chinese had an effective government system and a culture that pervaded most of East Asia. The ancient Chinese called themselves ‘The Middle Kingdom’ and Beijing was its capital. I will have the chance to live in a city that once ruled ‘its’ world. After the 2008 Olympics, Beijing has shown that history is cyclical; again China is ready to take a leading role. Beijing is in the crossroads of ancient city meets the future. Bigger than New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles combined Beijing is huge. So to make the answer simple of why- Why not? Now is the time to go. To learn of Beijing’s history, to live and enjoy in the present, and to look to the future of a growing China. So now I turn the question to you- Will you join me?