cultures, languages, foods and experiences.
Many who travel to China find it a fascinating place that
simultaneously surprises and shocks them compared with the
preconceptions they had before coming to the country.
They come back to their home countries with a greater understanding of
the people and how things are done here, though it's only the tip of
For one of my ex-colleagues, her chance to travel to the United States
-- New York of all places -- was a life-changing experience.
Through a program sponsored by the US Government, she was able to not
only meet other women from developing countries, but also be matched
up with a top female executive at a media company.
Not only did she get to see how top executives work, but also have a
glimpse into their lifestyle -- traveling on a private jet and
attending parties where personalities like talkshow host Oprah and
actress Zhang Ziyi attended.
My friend M was inspired after she heard ambitious women there think
anything is possible, that age is not a factor in determining their
career paths. In China things are completely different, where women
and men must observe mandatory retirement at 55 and 60 respectively.
She also saw the differences in state-run and capitalist media operations.
"If their leader sets a goal, they all put their resources in it to
make it happen," she observed. "But in China, it's about pleasing the
M added there are no incentives in state-run companies, there was no
praise or raise, and by the same token, low performing employees
weren't punished or fired either.
But perhaps the greatest change she saw was in herself.
"You know I am 31-years-old and I have been married for six years,"
she said. "But in New York I felt so free -- I could do whatever I
wanted, eat whenever I want, sleep whenever I want... but here, for
some reason, I just defer to whatever my husband wants to do... maybe
I love him more than I love myself."
Her husbsand has already noticed the changes, even though she got back
only a few weeks ago.
She has already hinted to him she wants to go back to New York to
study or do an internship with the hopes of switching careers -- but
the problem of her biological clock ticking has also been weighing on
I pointed out in the big scheme of things she is still young at 31,
and studying or doing an internship now for a year would not be too
late. Her husband had suggested she wait until after she had a child,
but it seems like he doesn't really know what's involved with having a
Nevertheless her four-week stay in the United States that included
Boston and Kansas were non-stop, filled with museum visits and
watching performances from plays and ballets to broadway shows.
Seems like she has a lot to think about -- changing the way she sees
herself and the world.