Carter Eberwine, a Coshocton County resident and 2010 graduate of Buckeye Career Center and Newcomerstown High school, recently returned from a trip to The People's Republic of China.

The trip was led by Dr. Walter Huber and Dr. John Sun of Muskingum University, where Eberwine is currently attending. The trip to China was unique because it visited some places across the northern half of China that are rarely seen by western tourists as well as the popular capital city of Beijing.

After arriving in China after a 13-hour flight from Chicago, the group (of six students and two professors) traveled to the city of Lanzhou, a city of 3.3 million (2008) located in Gansu province (central China). The group was received at two high schools that are affiliated with Muskingum University where the cooperation between the institutions in the future was discussed. About 50 students from China, most of which are from Lanzhou, will be enrolled in classes at Muskingum University in the fall. This cooperation and cross-cultural learning helps bring students from both countries to a better understanding of the world and human cultures. After visiting the schools, the group traveled to a Tibetan Monastery and observed the life, practices, and art of the Buddhist Monks.

The visit to Lanzhou ended with a 10-hour passenger train ride to the city of Dunhuang, the farthest city west in Gansu Province and the ancient entry to china on the silk road. Dunhuang is a major oasis in the Gobi desert, surrounded by hundreds of miles of completely uninhabitable land on all sides. There the group observed the famous 2000 year old Mogao caves -- immense caverns filled with Buddhist statues and murals that have only stood the test of time due to the arid climate. The group also took a camel train for over an hour into the Gobi desert to climb an immense sand dune and view an artesian spring. A half-day bus ride took the group to the medieval fort city of Jiayuguan where the world-famous Great Wall of China reaches its western end.

After a short return to Lanzhou, Eberwine traveled with the group to the capital of China- Beijing. There the group climbed the famous Badaling section of the Great Wall of China (the same place visited by President Richard Nixon in his 1972 tour of China). They also visited the site of the 2008 Olympic Games, Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, and several other places. The trip to Beijing was made interesting by the coincidence of the visit being at the same time as the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. There were mass celebrations in all major cities and on state-run television stations. Tiananmen Square was decorated with many symbolic banners and displays for the celebration.

"The trip to China opened my eyes to how different other cultures are and how we, as Americans, can reach out to other cultures with friendship, knowledge, and education to further our interests and the interests of the other country," said Eberwine. "The variety of everything in China is amazing -- at anytime in a major city one can see the history of transportation in 30 seconds. You will see a 2011 Mercedes-Benz sedan being followed by an old man pulling a rickshaw laden with grain, followed by semi hauling lumber, followed by an ox cart hauling lumber. Some people there live in palaces while less than a kilometer away people are living in caves."

Eberwine said that he would strongly recommend a trip to China to anyone who enjoys travel and that he feels that understanding how China really is has given him a much different view on the actions of the Chinese people and government.