Hello at long last!
Thanks to the Great Firewall of China, I was unable to access my blog during my 10 days in Beijing (nor could I use YouTube, Facebook, or Google occasionally). Censorship wasn’t the only challenge I faced during my time in Beijing– my study in China turned out less extensive than I hoped it would be. After my contact fell through, I reached out to as many groups as I could, and attended a few events to meet people in the green energy industry in China– which is actually a pretty big network. However, having a large network seemed to make finding people to meet with harder. I spoke with several individuals informally about my project, and based on their information along with my previous research into the energy situation in China, I am not optimistic about the possibility of applying the revenue-generating model in China, especially not among the “floating populations” I originally hoped to work with. Firstly, China has pretty strong electrification rates, especially anywhere near the urban centers in the eastern part of the country. The only places that completely lack electricity are remote communities in Western China– which would not only have been excessively difficult to access and navigate on a budget and without Chinese, but also lack significant cell phone usage.
Despite the challenges with the study, I had a fantastic time in and around Beijing during my time there. I saw several temples, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City. I climbed the Great Wall of China, explored Beijings streets, and learned to navigate its subway system. I ate scorpions, countless dumplings, and plenty of other Chinese favorites. I also took some time to relax a bit after my time in the Caribbean, Africa, and India. Beijing was definitely not my most exotic or adventurous stop, but it was very enjoyable.
After a great ten days in and around Beijing, I flew for twelve hours in Los Angeles. I believe that I mentioned before that I really enjoyed the flights on this trip– however, twelve hours was a bit brutal! After a quick lunch with my brother in Los Angeles, I flew another two hours to Denver, where I landed Wednesday evening. Since then, I have been adjusting to the time zone and spending time with my family before I leave for Georgetown on Monday.
This trip was the most incredible experience I have had in my life. Although I picked up a few small things for my family and close friends, I made sure not to buy any souvenirs for myself– all I took with me were memories and photographs. I learned so much in each country and over the trip as a whole– much more than the information I hoped to gain from the study. I picked up information specific to each country including local customs, city layouts, world cuisine, and bits of several languages. There were also lessons that spanned across the trip as a whole that I will be able to apply universally for the rest of my life– how to travel safely with a sense of adventure, what it takes to fill up a schedule, and that people across the world are not that different from one another. Although it’s hard to specifically think of any fundamental internal change, I am certain I see the world differently as a result of this trip.
I’ll be sure to post pictures from China and a few stragglers from India in the coming day. Otherwise, the rest of the project will involve planning and writing the final paper in the coming months. I also plan to pursue a few of the solar opportunities I found in Haiti and Africa with the help of Georgetown Energy– hopefully we will be able to help a few entrepreneurs empower their community and earn sustainable income with their own solar charging stations.