My name is Brandon Ferdig—born and raised in northern Minnesota. What an opportunity this is to share with you a year I lived in that other-worldly land called China! It’s a country we hear all about these days, but know surprisingly little about.
Are the people there friendly? Are they poor? Was the Internet censored there? What are the police like? Is the food much different than Chinese food in America? How did you teach English when you didn’t know their language? Do they drive on the right or the left? Is it cheap to live in China? Did you date Chinese women? Is China really that polluted?
Real quick: yes, most of them, yes, friendly, yes, teaching assistants, right side, yes, kind of, the water and streets are dirty (in cities) but the air isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
So often I would think to myself walking the streets of my city, Zhuhai, “Boy, I wish people back home could see this for themselves!” It was actual China—as opposed to the bits and pieces on the news. The fact is, there’s a lot of misunderstanding and fear directed toward China. And as such a key player in the world today, it’s important to gain a better understanding of what this country is like. This is a big part of why I’m writing.
But this blog is much more than just a Chinese tutorial. It’s a weekly journey of my discoveries, participation, and interaction with the people. And ultimately, it’s about the insights gained and lessons learned as a result of living in a foreign land, about reaching new plateaus of understanding about who we are.
Who am I? Well that’s the purpose of today’s article along with the explanation of this blog and a preview of the year that I experienced (the articles that you can look forward to.)
I was born at North Country Regional Hospital in Bemidji, Minnesota on May 15th, 1981. My family lived in Blackduck—that little pin prick on the map about half-hour north of Bemidji on highway 71. Actually, we didn’t live in town. We were about four miles east on a plot of 30 acres of forest and fields.
I can remember my first inklings of interest in peoples and cultures were sparked by the Native Americans who were classmates of mine. Later living in the Twin Cities, this interest, coupled with the desire to share my inquiries, led me to start blogging, host a cable access program, and work at the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
I also started to travel, and the way these experiences blossomed into writing led to the eventual decision to live outside the U.S. An opportunity arose and I moved to southern China, to a city on the ocean called Zhuhai (Pearl of the Sea). For work, I taught Chinese children and adults my mastery of the English language. (The northern Minnesotan version, of course.)
I arrived in China August of 2010 and returned to Minnesota August 2011. I brought along a couple bags and a laptop. And I described all that I saw, all that I did, and all that I learned.
Now, I will offer a new story each Saturday morning about my experiences and insights inspired by life in China.
Here’s a preview:
First and foremost, this blog is about people:
A study of people requires a look at what they do collectively, that thing we call culture:
Observation was one thing; participation and interaction was another:
China showed me her every side. From city:
To the small town:
To no town:
Now I’m excited to show it to you.
Here’s a shout-out to all the newspapers that were good enough to hop on board with this blog, offering their readers a chance to learn about their world. And here’s a “hello” to all you readers in all these communities!
I hope you all come along for the ride.
Next Saturday, we land in China…