Taylor goes to China

Story by Taylor Kuether, Managing Editor

While you’ll still see my byline in The Spectator over the next two weeks, you won’t find me in the Spectator office, the place on campus that I consider my second home. I’ll be sending those bylines from 7,523 miles away.

I’m going to China for two weeks to work as a field reporter sending stories, photos, audio and interviews back to campus to cover Chancellor Gilles Bousquet’s recruitment excursion to China. We will be meeting with UW-Eau Claire’s partner universities in China to strengthen those partnerships and build Chinese students’ interest in studying at Eau Claire.

Faculty from the Center for International Education, the dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences and the interim associate dean of the College of Business are also a part of the delegation, aiming to strengthen ties and potentially forge future opportunities for UWEC students.

I found out about the trip exactly one month before I was scheduled to catch a flight to Hong Kong, during which time I spent every spare moment researching Chinese history, culture, traditions, etiquette and even language (ni hao, by the way!). But anyone who has ever traveled — and I’ve only done so minimally — knows that no amount of research will
prepare you for what it’s like to immerse yourself in a culture opposite your own, where no one has curly hair like yours and there’s even a completely different alphabet from the one you learned in preschool. It’s going to be a challenge, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Even right now as I write this, still in the middle of the Midwest I’ve known my whole life, it hasn’t quite hit me that I’ll be in a foreign country for two weeks. It may not hit me until I’m at the airport boarding an international flight, or during my layover in Tokyo, or maybe it will finally hit me as I step off the plane and catch my first glimpse of Hong Kong -— the first stop on our tour, which will hit Zhuhai, Guangzhou and Hangzhou before ending in Shanghai.

The experience may not feel quite real yet, but what I do feel is gratitude. I’m grateful to this university for making this happen for me, for handing me an opportunity I’d never even dreamed of. We go to a pretty amazing university. This place makes things happen. I’m feeling a whole lot of love for Eau Claire right now, love that I can’t wait to share with China. Let the adventure begin.