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Travel Philosophy, Expectations, and My Research June 28, 2010

Posted by Andrew Broderick in China, Graduate, Individual Fellowship, Master's, Taiwan.
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As I write on the eve of my departure to Shanghai and the 2010 World Expo, my mind is focused on the adventure ahead. After months of preparations, that time has come to begin one of the greatest adventures of my life. I hope that my readers enjoy following me on my adventure to East Asia where I will be studying urban life in all of its forms and functions (everyday life, the urban extraordinary, food, architecture, theater, music, business, shopping, and getting around). Major cities include Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Taipei,  Taichung, and Tainan.

I invite my readers to comment often. I embrace the dialogue when sharing stories and observations about other cultures. I feel that our world can become closer through knowledge and common understanding of our diverse human experiences. I feel that in many instances global understanding and cross-cultural communication are fostered when people deconstruct their own personal paradigms, hold in-check their personal biases, and re-construct them with a larger world view in mind. That is the true power in traveling to foreign places. Traveling with this mindset powers diversity, balances the mind, and creates a well-rounded person. I am reminded of the words of French philosopher Montesquieu: “You receive three educations, one from your parents, one from your school master, and one from the world.  The third contradicts all that the first two teach us.”

As I travel and record thoughts on this blog, there are several things I expect throughout my journey. I expect the unexpected, as well as the serendipity and spontaneity inherent in exploring places unknown. I expect to embrace the ordinary as well as the extraordinary. I expect to take nothing for granted.  I expect to learn from my experience every moment. I expect to contribute to the positive exchange of cultures through conversation and my actions.

My research is a very important part of my adventure. I am extremely interested in cities as I am pursuing a degree in urban and regional planning, and there is perhaps no better frontier of urban development to study then the rapidly developing mega cities of East Asia. These cities–led by Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou in China and Taipei in Taiwan–are exploding with growth. Vast infrastructure systems, incredible skyscrapers, and high-density developments are all visible hallmarks of the intense urbanization of this part of the world. My quest here is to witness and observe qualities of this phenomenal transformation set within a context of understanding that accounts for place and time–the future, present, and past.

I will be attending Expo 2010 in Shanghai where I will be focusing on exhibits that feature urban innovations ranging from environmental sustainability to historic preservation to high-tech infrastructure. I will document and learn about innovative solutions to urban problems that I can apply in my future profession. As our world population is now more than 50 percent urban, we will face increasingly complex and important decisions in the way we make our built environments. It is my intention to devote my career to making great decisions to lead cities forward.

Lastly, I will leave you with a quote from philosopher and writer Marcel Proust: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

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