Last week we had a personal weekend during which we could either travel to Shanghai or Beijing. I chose to go Shanghai to visit some friends. They told me to get excited because they were going to show me how they lived on a daily basis. “Great!” I thought. My friends had lived in Shanghai for nearly their entire lives, so I thought I would be getting a taste of how an average person lived. However, I didn’t realize until I finally met them in Shanghai how deeply they identified with the international community of Shanghai. I made the mistake of homogenizing the Shanghainese population even though I’ve been so frustrated myself in having to describe the diversity of America. On the bright side, I realized this sooner rather than later and I also had a splendid time in Shanghai. After returning to Zhuhai, I recounted the expedition to my host family. My host dad then went to a long speech about the history of the places we visited and their artistic relevance and I learned something important: patriotism is greater in China than it is in America.
According to my host dad, Chinese people are very proud of the four great parts of their culture: Chinese drama, poetry, calligraphy, and chess. I’ve also encountered such patriotism among students. Of course, I’ve only lived in Zhuhai and have only interacted with a small number of people but I think Chinese people possess a beneficial patriotism that, on average, Americans do not. We are often critical of our country, its past, and the way it works. In fact, I feel like patriotism is often negatively viewed in America. I think that’s because patriotism often centers around an event, and that event can be viewed from a number of angles with winners and losers. Given the number of different perspectives and backgrounds hold up America, you’re sure to find someone who doesn’t view an event as positively as you do. But, if patriotism is centered something potentially neutral, like art or music, there is a chance it can be loved by all. So maybe after promoting arts literacy in China, I can do the same when I go back to the States.