With the help of local sponsors, grants and scholarships, a UALR Senior Theatre Arts Major took his first trip abroad. During spring break Ross Jackson traveled to China with faculty members Dr. Jeff Kyong-McClain and Dr. Jess Porter, who led a 10-day Short-term Travel Course on Chinese history and geography.
During my last semester at UALR studying Theatre Arts, I experienced something new, something that helped to reinforce my academic goals. I have always had a passion for traveling, but this trip abroad gave “traveling” a whole new meaning. Having the opportunity to go to China changed my perspective on life, and I hardly look at anything the same. I realized how valuable it is as an artist to be able to draw on examples from other cultures and perspectives.
With a background in the arts, I approached China as a story waiting to be told. My experiences on-stage are performed stories; this trip to China has become my story of experiencing the history of Eastern Art. During my 10 days in China I had the chance to see the Beijing Opera, a few art exhibits, the 798 Art Zone and even play an ancient Chinese musical instrument. All of these experiences are unique to China, and would not have been the same if I had not traveled abroad; there is something different and special about seeing and experiencing what you hear about.
I found the language barrier to be both shocking and interesting. The language itself was fascinating and fun - I still find myself saying xie xie (thank you)! On the other hand, a couple days into the trip I realized that I was in another country, but we were communicating with the locals in our language instead of vice versa.
What surprised me most about the culture was the camaraderie among the Chinese. Very rarely did I ever see a person alone, they always travel in groups, and we frequently saw people helping each other with daily activities. This made a lasting impression on me and I will always remember China for its friendliness.
I am thankful to those who helped fund my study abroad experience; the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, the UALR Department of Theatre & Dance, the Short-term Programs Scholarship, and ITE Sponsorship. As I begin preparing for graduate school, I hope for the opportunity to return to Asia in the near future. To learn more about my study abroad experience in China, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org