In June, I flew to China with Northeastern University’s mascot, the Husky, to represent our program at the Beijing Northeastern University (NU) Alumni Community Speaker Event. I presented on my global citizenship research and shared the contributing cultural artifact, the Traveling Global Citizenship Canvas.  This canvas is approximately 40 feet in length covered front and back with NU student and alumni descriptions about the values of global citizenship.   With Husky by my side, we sought to absorb some local culture and gain a broader perspective on our alumnus home in Beijing and Chengdu, China.

My first impression of Beijing was the dichotomy of the space. The roads seemed so wide, yet the traffic was so heavy. However, an efficient public transportation system led into the heart of the city, Tiananmen Square. Immediately to the right when rising from the underground system, we found a boulevard filled with shops and restaurants. The magnificent city gates set the tone for grandeur and Asian antiquity. Husky wasn’t in Boston anymore. We entered Tiananmen Square through a security check point, and were surprised by the vastness of the square. The China National Museum sat strikingly on one side of the square opposite government buildings and the 14th century Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, seemingly filled the opposite end of the square. Within this square, there was a variety of architectural designs from across the ages.

Despite the heat, the gorgeous flowers and landscape tricked the mind to continue onward to discover more. Husky and I forged toward the Forbidden City, the imperial palace for the Ming and Qing Dynasties until 1911. No matter the day, thousands of people wait in line to visit it. One truly needs days to see the over 8,000 rooms in the Forbidden City, but we only had time for a glimpse of the guard quarters near the entrance.  As I reflect, I can only imagine how our alumni must have felt moving to Boston for their educational pursuits; Boston is a very compact city compared to this spacious city.

After appreciating Beijing’s ancient splendor, it was time for Husky and me to talk with the young Northeastern University alumni.

Northeastern University Beijing Alumni Community

These alumni were forming a new, local community with graduates from across Northeastern University.  We shared ideas about the concept of global citizenship and how we might consider ourselves as developing layers of cultures in the midst of our global society.  Many alumni voiced how they grew to love the culture in Boston. Although they may have experienced some challenges with culture shock, they valued learning about how to live in America.

Husky and I headed on another adventure in China to visit our own alumni and my past student, Mingming Xu ’17. Mingming was living in Chengdu in the Sichuan Province, a region noted for pandas and spicy hot pot food. Husky and I experienced wonderful hospitality, amazing food, and fascinating cultural sights. Click on the video link to share some of our marvelous adventures.

Mingming was excited about her new role in a start-up and contributed her confidence and professional knowledge for the role to completing her MS COC.

Even though it was just a glimpse of China, traveling outside of our Western city increased my understanding of my students and their Eastern metropolis. Although Husky lightheartedly offered an amusing perspective on my experience, I was most grateful for the generosity I received from our alumni.  From a global citizenship view, I was impressed with how our alumni were able to recognize the cultural differences between the East and West, yet value those differences and make a home in both cities.

Posted by Patty Goodman, Ed.D., Faculty