Elena Meyer-Clement learned Chinese during her school years. She traveled with school groups to Shanghai and Beijing. Meyer-Clement recalls finding the country and its people awful on her second visit. “The people saw us as strangers just as we saw them.” But that aversion did not last long; the then-student soon felt a connection to the locals, in everyday encounters, in exchanges of brief glances. “I remembered that because I later realized that my fascination with China had nothing to do with what was foreign, but what was common, despite all the differences.”
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