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Video: Michael Meyer on Learning About China From the Ground Up

Michael Meyer talks about his experiences as a young Peace Corps volunteer in China, a story that is both deeply personal and universal as he captures what it feels like to learn a language, culture and history from the ground up. 

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About the Book
In 1995, at the age of twenty-three, Michael Meyer joined the Peace Corps and, after rejecting offers to go to seven other countries, was sent to a tiny town in Sichuan. Knowing nothing about China, or even how to use chopsticks, Meyer wrote Chinese words up and down his arms so he could hold conversations, and, per a Communist dean's orders, jumped into teaching his students about the Enlightenment, the stock market, and Beatles lyrics. Soon he realized his Chinese counterparts were just as bewildered by China's changes as he was. 

Thus began an impassioned immersion into Chinese life. With humor and insight, Meyer puts readers in his novice shoes, winding across the length and breadth of his adopted country --from a terrifying bus attack on arrival, to remote Xinjiang and Tibet, into Beijing's backstreets and his future wife's Manchurian family, and headlong into efforts to protect China's vanishing heritage at places like "Sleeping Dragon," the world's largest panda preserve. 

In the last book of his China trilogy, Meyer tells a story both deeply personal and universal, as he gains greater – if never complete – assurance, capturing what it feels like to learn a language, culture and history from the ground up. Both funny and relatable, The Road to Sleeping Dragon is essential reading for anyone interested in China's history, and how daily life plays out there today.

 

This video is also available on the USCI YouTube Channel.

About the Author
Michael Meyer first went to China in 1995 with the Peace Corps. The winner of a Lowell Thomas Award for travel writing, Meyer has also won a Whiting Writers' Award for nonfiction and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His stories have appeared in the New York TimesTimeSmithsonianSports IllustratedSlate, the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune. He is the author of In Manchuria and The Last Days of Old Beijing and he divides his time between Pittsburgh and Singapore.

Click here for the event listing.


 

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Events

December 5, 2017 - 4:00pm
Los Angeles, California

The USC U.S.-China Institute presents a book talk by Scott Tong and a unique perspective on the transitions in China through the eyes of regular people.

April 6, 2018 - 8:00am
Los Angeles, California

"Finding Solutions" will focus on the work of individuals, companies, and NGOs to address some of China’s pressing challenges. We hope you will be able to join this important discussion on April 6.