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Bison in China and Japan 2012
Euzahn Collins  
Leigton Watson
Entry Date:

July, 2012

On Top of the World

After 14 hours of being airborne across the Atlantic Ocean, I finally arrived in Shanghai, the largest and most cosmopolitan city in China. History has always fascinated me, and I was enlightened and intrigued to find that Shanghai has been one of the central ports since the Opium war. Shanghai's past is paved with both religion and commerce that still bear influence today in the 21st century.

Admittedly, the activity that I was dreading the most was scheduled on day 3: the visit to the World Financial Center. It is the 2nd tallest building in the world, and being so high in the air is a fear of mine However, I had mentally prepared myself for stepping out of my comfort zone. Once I finally took the first step onto the glass floor, I was so grateful that I decided to go. The view was breath-taking as I looked down through glass panels 1,555ft below onto the Shanghai city floor. I have never seen a metropolis so expansive. There was skyscraper upon skyscraper, highway upon highway. I would have never known that the next activity would top the tallest observation deck in the world.

I was never a believer in the phenomenon of jet lag: that is until about 5 p.m. on day 3 of our excursion. This happened to be the same time of the start of the acrobat show that we were scheduled to see. I had a preconceived notion that all acrobatic shows were the same, but after observing the 2nd act, where a young girl spun a table on one leg with her toes, I was amazed. The show inspired me to work at my craft, whatever that is, and to not just obtain a job but to perfect whatever I choose to pursue.

The last and most impactful activity we experienced was the cultural exchange with local students that were studying English. I was only able to sit down and talk with two students, but what they gave me, through their broken English, was an understanding of their perspective on world issues. They learn about the west primarily through visual media, such as news and films; which explains some of their misplaced perceptions of western culture and African Americans. I was glad to have an opportunity to dispel some of the myths and change their perception in a more positive light. As an English major, they also opened my mind to address the English language in a more critical manner. It was not only an exchange of culture, but of information and general commonalities. The trip, has enlarged my territory and broadened my footprint in the world, while at the same time caused me to become humble and realize that I am only one link in a 7 billion member long chain.

Leigton Watson is a sophomore, English major from Grand Rapids, MI. He is a member of the College of Arts and Sciences Honors Program, a member of the Political Science Society, Warrior Scholar Program, and was recently elected Parliamentarian of the Howard University Student Association Senate; all while maintaing a 3.75 grade point average.

Leighton is excited about his first cultural immersion trip and plans to further his experience by studying Mandarin at Howard University and will continue to search for opportunities abroad.

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