Pico Iyer: Why We Travel Vership: Chinese Culture And Relationship

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In Pico Iyer’s essay ‘Why We Travel’, he stated that when people travel to new places, they become the carrier and a mirror of their native culture. Peter Hessler and Luke both had their unique experience in China. Although staying in different environments, the two Americans had similar experience of having a deeper understanding the local culture and value. Their long term’s stay also allowed them to serve as the spokesperson of their country. This paper will explore the details of Rivertown and “Chinese Checkmate” to appreciate how people exchange their cultures and values when travelling.
Both Peter Hessler and Luke were quite unfamiliar to the place they visited. In Rivertown, Peter Hessler went to Fuling with another companion where no
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Hessler learnt a lot from his students’ diaries. He started to comprehend what act was improper under Chinese context. He began to understand the college students’ struggle between obeying the traditional Chinese value and accepting the reform and opening up. Hessler began to understand the students’ eager to understand a foreign culture, hesitation of speaking out criticism, and sometimes doubt about the outside world. His two years’ experience allowed him and his companion Adam not only teach new language and culture to students in Fuling, but they also learned in depth about local people’s ideologies and values underlying the conversations and diaries. Luke as well, had an unforgettable memory of pain and joy in his eight months’ detention life. He started to make connections to people he could barely meet in his life. He made a good friend with an Afghanistan guy, whom he discussed a lot of clash of civilization with; he experienced moments of separation when the guy he talked to in the morning was executed in the afternoon; he also had fun when he taught his three cell mates the hockey pokey dance and performed during New Year performance. Moreover, he learnt that the legislation system in China is different from America: you need to learn to negotiate with the other party. Most importantly, the friendship between Luke and his “roommates” gave him the connections he never had in spite of all kinds of suffering and embarrassment in jail. He began to know these people as a person and reflected more on his

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