Well where to begin… we see so much of the Chinese culture in movies and other media platforms but actually experiencing it first hand is something totally different.
I was among several delegates from the Pacific who was gifted an opportunity by the Chinese government to experience mainland China on a foundation of building stronger two-way relationships.
As I departed Samoa, I thought like a journalist and made up my mind that no matter how hospitable they were, I would remember that there is nothing free in this world and that there is always some sort of agenda.
That mindset was quickly nullified not long after arriving at my destination.
The hospitality shown was convincingly genuine and I fell in love with China and her people before I could even take my first shower.
The food was what sealed the deal for me. I was officially hooked.
The trip took me to the Great Wall of China, I got to see agricultural sites, I dined at the foot of the Giant Mount Jiuhua Buddha statue, I ferried along the Tianjin river and so much more.
I even noticed efforts towards controlling the smog problem and the desire to switch to environmental approaches.
I got to see the beauty that is China.
Many Chinese stereotypical walls were also brought down for me which I feel was only made possible through seeing the country myself.
There are so many to list but one of the stereotypes was that Chinese media have no freedom of press and that they only show the good side of China.
But after obtaining and reading an issue of the Global Times newspaper I noticed that there is actually a decent amount of freedom and that the ugly side does show.
Back to the reason behind the trip, after meeting with a few government members I managed to get a pretty good insight on where they would like to stand in terms of relations with the Pacific.
They need the Pacific just as much as we need their products.
But that is old news, we all know that our raw materials are worth a lot to many foreign nations; but the type of raw material China is mostly interested in is not what we all think.
China is interested in the beauty of the Pacific.
They want to find ways to get as involved as possible in tourism; they want a people to people exchange.
They want more Chinese people holidaying on the beaches of the Pacific.
The only issue brought up was that Samoa and the Pacific are not advertising nearly as much which wastes the potential we have.
“In recent years we have seen more and more Chinese tourists visiting the Island nations,” said Director General, Shan Jiang of the Department of American and Oceanian Affairs Ministry of Commerce in China.
“Tourism is a perfect market that can benefit the Pacific greatly, if you do not enjoy your own scenery then let us share.
“Promoting your country as a safe and beautiful place to visit will help your nation’s economy bloom.”
There is so much we can learn from China, they are such passionate people and we need that in Samoa.
The way their eyes glow when they watch a traditional performance even if they have seen the show a million times is just amazing.
The passion they show in their work is also something worth envying, they seek excellence in everything they do and that is what we need in Samoa.
We could even learn from the way they eat; vegetables and fruits are seen as luxurious to them, they eat salads with the same joy Samoans get from eating pisupo.
I went to China skeptical but I learnt how to open my mind and fell in love with the country.
I am forever grateful for the opportunity I got and I am glad that I did not waste a moment of it.
I highly recommend visiting such a lovely nation.