September 12, 2016 at 5:23 pm

Anthropology Student Takes a Surreal Journey to China

Henry Bauer at the Stone Forest

Henry Bauer at the Stone Forest

By Tetyana Dovbnya
Ohio Program of Intensive English and A&S International Academic Advisor

As we notice the tint of yellow in the leaves of old trees that abound on Ohio University’s campus, we start to realize the autumn is knocking at the doorstep. With a bit of nostalgia, we look back at our summer adventures, still so vivid in our memory. This is especially true for Henry Bauer, a first-year Anthropology major student in the College of Arts & Sciences, who shares the memories of his “astonishing and bewildering” trip to China with us.

Embarking on a trip to China had been Bauer’s dream for quite a while, he recounts. As a sophomore in Kenston High School (Bainbridge, OH), he developed a keen interest in not just the language and bountiful history of China, but also its array of landscapes, rich culture, and dynamic society that operates so differently from western cultures.

Bauer’s study of Mandarin ventured beyond the classroom as he worked independently on its intricacies through participating in WeChat (a Chinese analog to Facebook), learning the language from native speakers, and establishing international contacts. That way, he was getting a better understanding of and a deeper appreciation for what came with the language, the culture. He was grateful to finally experience it firsthand in the Chinese Bridge Summer Camp in July 2016.

“Even the process of transportation from America to China felt like entering a new world,” said Bauer, who deems his journey as surreal.

In China, Bauer spent two weeks in Beijing, at the Capitol University of Economics and Business, and in Kunming, at Yunnan Normal University. During his visit, he studied the Chinese language, culture, calligraphy, and the singing traditions of China; gained the intricate skills of paper cutting; and, of course, explored the country through sightseeing. He speaks with fascination about some of the major historic landmarks, both timeless and modern, that he was able to see. Among them are the Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, Beijing 798 Art District, the Stone Forest, and Kunming’s Ethnic Minority Village. Bauer also notes that this study abroad experience gave him a better understanding of how a society functions there, how metropolises differ from neighboring rural areas. He gained good insights into the life and varying languages of the Kunming minority groups too, which were of a particular interest to an Anthropology major. Overall, it was a life-changing trip that not only inspired him, but also prepared him for the transformative college experience here at Ohio University.

To my question why he chose Ohio University as his alma mater, Bauer responded that OHIO fits his academic goals and has a study abroad program that interests him. On top of the academic reasons, he came here because of his infatuation by history, mythology, superstitions, and haunted places, for which Athens is known. He also loves the classic feel of the architecture on campus, “the feeling of preserving tradition.”

Currently, Bauer has a lot of plans for his time at Ohio University: Explore the Anthropology major, study abroad in China, and enhance his proficiency in the Chinese language both through the coursework and by engaging with international students on campus. After graduation, he plans to continue widening his horizons even further through extensive travel and exploring more cultures and languages. He embraces the new and unknown that the future holds for him and follows Lao Tzu’s maxim, “A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” I wish Henry and all OHIO students a happy and exciting journey ahead!


          Kunming Ethnic Minority Village


Henry at the Campus of Yunnan Normal University

     Campus of Yunnan Normal University

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