China Dream Practicum
We traveled to six different cities in China in two weeks to hear lectures and talk with people involved in academia, finance, business, social entrepreneurship, and civil society. The trip was a whirlwind, and it was sometimes difficult to get research questions in at lectures. I learned a ton from listening to all our presenters, but could have gotten more out of it if I’d done more research on what their specialties were and what kinds questions they might be best prepared to answer. Taking some more time to debrief and collect my thoughts during the trip might have been helpful as well. The list of presenters and speakers our professors put together for us was amazing – it can be easy to take things for granted when you’re actually in meetings, but, for example, talking with the manager of an SOE or the director of an NGO incubator, as informal as it might feel at the time, is a really unique opportunity to get insight into how those fields operate in China. The international narrative is that China is becoming more and more centralized under Xi, but, unsurprisingly, on the ground in civil society and business – even for SOEs – reality seems to be a lot more complicated than that narrative suggests.