Look around any corner in China and you can easily have a discussion concerning a newfound hope and emerging pride in the present growth of this country. China roots this current pride in its booming economy, food/culture and exceptional work ethic. However, this newfound hope is nourished by the foundational pride of China’s ancient heritage. While the Republic of China was founded in 1912 and the People’s Republic of China emerged in 1949, China still celebrates 221 BCE as its founding year making it one of the oldest civilizations.
Ancient structures are the source of much pride such as, the Great Wall located in Beijing, the official capital of China. The Great Wall, a massive collection of short walls extends for 5,500 miles. At one point, it was stated that the wall was so massive it could be seen from space. While we know this is not true, the Great Wall is still one of the greatest tourist attractions to China, seen and walked by millions of travellers.
(Thankfully, I had the opportunity to travel it. It has been said in China that to be a “real man” you must be capable enough to take that journey…It’s most definitely a serious one)
Local pride can also be found within China’s youth. I’m thankful that most of my graduate research occurs on the well-known campus of Shanghai International Studies University, SISU. Being in the presence of college students opens the door for interesting conversations on what makes them most proud. Overall students shared that their pride connected with the love of their food, their people, and their work ethic.
One student shared, “I love our food. Many people get it wrong and think that it is just one style, but there’s so much variety in Chinese food. I like American food but it’s simple. Chinese food is complex.”
When I asked students what they would like the world to know about Chinese people the answer was very clear. “We are a friendly people and this is a peaceful place.”
When I asked a student what made him proud to be a Chinese citizen he replied, “We are strong and we work hard. I get up early at 6 am. School starts at 8 am and goes until 6 pm or 7 pm. We study hard. Study… Study… Study.
It was beautiful to see the pride each youth had with being a citizen of the Republic of China. In truth, I found many individuals who could share various reasons of pride for their country. However, across the board there was always a clear statement, “Our architecture is strong, but our people are stronger. We are strong people.” The architecture, food and history may be center stage in most discussions, but it’s the pride of its’ collective people that shines brightest.