the planned

In 2009, I was chosen as part of a grant to travel to China and document the many changes the country was experiencing. We were told a collision was happening between old world traditions and new world progress due to the rapid growth of the Chinese economy.

the unplanned

This trip was not a tourist experience. It was a month-long excursion of outhouses, bug infested mattresses and seemingly endless drives into remote parts of China unseen even by most Chinese. My eyes were opened to the vastly different lifestyles and all of the sheer hard work it takes for billions of people to simply exist in this world.

the reality

Upon my return home after an exhausting 30-day trip, I had a greater understanding of the comforts in my own life—but that’s as far as it went for a while. The memories I have of China have deepened over time as I reflect from a distance. I remember being invited into humble homes to share humble meals, excited children eager to show us around their villages, having my first drink of alcohol in the form of rice wine from a ceremonial horn—all things that didn’t seem very real then, and certainly don’t seem real now.