Tomorrow we board a plane for a 15 hour flight to the other side of the world. I won't be able to read the language, unless it's been translated into pinyin, and I won't understand a word. This is both deliciously tantalizing and terrifying. 10 years ago, the Faulconer Gallery did an exhibition of contemporary Chinese art based on Chinese characters. Some of it was actual Chinese language. Some of it was by Chinese artists playing with the language. While I understood those concepts, I would not have been able to make the distinction visually. Now I am headed to the source of that language itself. I realize how much I depend on language to navigate. As a friend says, I'll just have to learn to ask for help and not try to do everything myself!
I'm looking forward to experiencing the dynamism of China, the clash of old and new. I revel in places where ancient and modern collide, where a city really lives and isn't preserved as an artifact. I look forward to making new friends. I'm nervous about finding restaurants and foods every day. I know how hard that can be and how cranky I get if I don't find food. At first, my body won't even know when I should eat, since our schedules will be upside down. We have notes from colleagues who have been to Nanjing, and I trust we will have helpful guidance along the way.
I am hopeful that I can be open to the experiences and take things as they come. I really hope my class is interesting and useful to students at Nanjing University. We are ready for an amazing 5 weeks. Next stop, Hong Kong.