Looking Back at My Fantastic Trip to China
As I look back on my trip to China, it feels amazing that we did and saw so much in just two weeks, and yet there was so much we didn’t get to do. The sheer size of China means there is a blend of cultures so varied that I feel like I have to be specific about where I visited. Simply saying ‘I went to China’ does not do it justice. As I have stated before, it was my first time traveling to Asia and I learned so much. The Culinary Institute of America opens the door to so many opportunities and these Global Cuisines and Cultures trips are certainly one of the great ones. We are given the chance to experience a culture through a common love we share—food. No shortcuts were taken during our trip. We had amazing meals and tried everything in the traditional way that it was intended. In Sichuan, our tour guide Zac mentioned that some of his favorite tours are with the CIA because he gets to try all of his favorite regional cuisines in its purest and accurate preparation.
Reading about a culture and actually experiencing it are very different things. Prior to our trip, we spent the better part of 15 weeks reading articles about China’s history and culture, picking current news articles to share with the group, and having discussion boards. My views and posts would probably be different now that I have actually been to China. I have to admit that prior to this opportunity I had never really imagined myself ever going to China. Based on all the news we hear and what we grow up learning about Chine, I was a bit nervous and cautious to travel there. That being said, all my preconceptions were quite wrong. The people are kind, the cities are clean, and the hospitality is one of a kind. Now more than ever, it is important to see that people, no matter the country or cultures they are born into, are not so different. We live in a time when the world is getting smaller every day and we cannot afford to be close-minded. This trip was humbling as well as educational.
At the CIA, our campus is diverse yet small. So many cultures, regions, and ethnicities are represented in a place where everyone knows everyone else. For me, it is an essential part of my education. Food and wine is not merely fuel for the body, it is profound in that it is at the core of so many cultures and traditions. CIA students get to understand this first-hand on trips to China, Italy, France, or any of the countries we have the opportunity to travel to with the CIA. As my time at the CIA comes to an end in the next couple months, I will remember a great deal—from my friends that became family, the chefs, and professors who taught me and elevated my career, and certainly, my two weeks abroad in China.
By Ramon Manglano