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my friends > China

Welcome to China. I have fallen in love with this country. Again I have to emphasize that it has nothing to do with politics, communism, human rights, or any other supposedly international relevant issues. It's simply the country itself, its over 5000 year old culture and traditions, and above all, the real people in China. They are phenomenal, very interested in friendships with other nationalities, and extremely warm hearted. Over the years that I have been in contact with my Chinese friends I have also become acquainted with members of their family and know I will always be welcome. The adventure of my life was my first trip to China in September 2009. I spent three weeks there, and already know I'm going back next year. You can find a lot photos in the Slide show On the My Trip page. OK, to clarify any possible misconception, I have to say that I do not agree with some, or even most of the Chinese government issues. I can only say that communism has helped China get where it is today. Read a bit of history and you'll quickly see that it wasn't always that way. Considering the 56 Nations that comprise the country, it's fairly easy to realize that not a single one could have survived on its own. A strong hand was needed to hold it all together. For sure, not everything was done in a way that we westerners can understand or appreciate, but nevertheless it did the trick. Things are rapidly changing, and the country is as modern and as free as you could imagine. I have discussed many of the so called pertinent issues with my friends, for hours at a time. I never had the feeling that they were holding back or trying to avoid the questions I had. You may be asking, what's with the censorship we all hear about? It's really not an issue. We had difficulties to start video chats during the Olympics, but all else works without a problem. Bandwidth can only go so far. And yes we do use MSN and Yahoo as well. YouTube is frequently blocked and inaccessible, a real pain for the kids because all they want is to be able to get to all the music videos. But I do follow the news on Chinese TV, which I can receive via satellite, and it seems that that will change soon. It appears that the new strategy will be to filter the so called undesirable content instead of entire sites. I also have a Chinese account on their favourite chat system QQ. It took a while to get used to, but it does have amazing functions that our western world doesn't provide, really a shame. If I could read more Chinese I'd know all the tricks. I hope you enjoy taking a look at some of the kids I work with, and their respective surroundings. Most of them are between 19 and 25 years old and still in school. I met 4 of them personally during my trip. Despite travelling about 6000 miles through the country, I couldn't make it to all of them this time around. China is simply too big to cover in three weeks.

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