2009 MSUM China Tour

Journal Essay

Essay Topics: It is important that you start thinking about what you would like to write about in your reflective essay of the trip. Throughout the trip, you should be focusing your attention on observations that corroborate or contradict your thesis, record them in your journal, and when you are ready to write your essay after the trip, you will have your ideas ready:

  1. Language

    Where is Pinyin used? Did you observe both traditional and simplified characters? What changes do you observe in the language?

    Focus on the signs and how they are translated into English?

    Do Chinese students learn English faster than we learn Chinese? Why or why not?

  2. History

    Concentrate on a period of Chinese history and write in depth on its impact on China today.

    What Western influences did you observe in China? Good or bad?

  3. Geography

    China and U.S. are about the same size in land. Compare and contrast China with the U.S. in food production, population density, land use, water resources, infrastructure, energy use, etc.

  4. Schools

    Compare and contrast the educational systems of the United States and China.

    Compare and contrast the life of a Chinese teenager or college student to yours.

  5. Politics

    How close is China to becoming a "democracy"? (How would you define a democracy?) How much freedom and which kinds of freedom do you think the average Chinese enjoy compared to the average American?

  6. The Arts

    Visual and performing arts. Both traditional and modern.

  7. Music

    Traditional and modern Chinese music. It is said by Western musicians that the future of classical music is in China. What did you observe that would confirm of contradict that?

  8. Culture

    What traditional value did you observe? What traditional values seem to be lost? What did you like or dislike about Chinese culture (using "culture" in a broad sense)?

  9. The Chinese People

    Describe the Chinese people today—their values, motivations, aspirations, self-image, etc. What is their life like compared to the average American? Did you observe a great disparity of wealth? Compare and contrast life in the countryside vs. in the city? How do you think the Chinese perceive Westerners? Do the Chinese people resent or admire Westerners?

  10. Current Event

How do the Chinese view China’s role in world affairs today? Do they think China should take a more active role in world affairs than they now do? Should they be closer or less close to the United States? Should China be more or less active in the United Nations and its actions?



Of course, these are not theses statements. They are a set of topics to help guide you to a statement for your paper. And you are free to come up with a topic of your own. However, everyone must declare their topic BEFORE the trip. You may change your mind during the trip, but you must let Dr. Stutes if you are going to do that.