By Joseph Young
Encountering a different culture is supposed to be a jarring experience for a novice traveler like me. As a student of visual communication and anthropology, I’m learning new ways to take in what I see and relate it to how I understand the world around me. For our trip to Chengdu, it is integral to keep open eyes and an open mind. These are a high priority on my travelling list for our guided journey to Sichuan.
What stimulates the eye can dictate one’s approach to producing creative visuals. Not to say that someone who’s lived in a box their entire life can’t generate creative content, but whatever they DO create will be a result of their experiences in that box. We’re all creatures of our environment; therefore, wherever we go becomes a piece of us. On my trip to Sichuan, I plan to stay aware of the visuals in my environment and how they can impact my aesthetic. As a photographer, I’m hoping to capture engaging visuals of art and culture. As a designer, I’m looking to observe the relationship of form and function in the urban structure of Chengdu.
Visuals are only one aspect of embracing a culture. As an anthropologist, understanding the relationship of a social construct to the way a culture is structured remains a high priority in developing a thorough analysis of how a society operates. On a less technical level, this requires me to stay open to social cues and understand how they relate to everyday life in Chengdu. I’m aware that a two-week trip is only a small portion of time for this kind of study, but the little that I learn from my exposure should go a long way.
Though at the end of the day, beyond my expectations is the experience to come. I do not expect to achieve everything I want in the exact way I’ve written it. I expect to gain so much more than anything I can predict at this point. Unfathomable adventure lies in wait. Despite all the things we’ve discussed about the great nation of China, there are always those moments in travelling that cannot be preconceived. Whether these moments stand out positively or negatively, what I expect to achieve more than anything from our abroad experience is learning and growth.