So I survived! I made it to and back from Beijing, China! I have to say I had a wonderful time. It’s not that I thought I wouldn’t. I guess I never really gave it much thought because it all happened so fast. But once everything came together, it was a really great experience, and I’m glad I accepted the invitation to go.
The journey began on Halloween, departing Nashville on that Tuesday morning, then the 14-hour flight out of Chicago, straight into Beijing. In addition to the long flight, the 13 hour time difference made for quite the shock to the system when we landed at 4 PM on Wednesday afternoon. Fortunately the only thing on the agenda was dinner and rest! And at dinner we met one of the other professors from Liverpool, UK.
Thursday morning the three of us set off for a little sightseeing with three students from the Communication University of China (CUC), the host school who invited us to speak at the Fourth Music Industry Forum. We managed to be able to go to two places before we had to get back to prepare for the evening. We toured the Forbidden City, but because of how huge it was, we only walked through about half the place. I honestly can’t even imagine what it must have been like to live there all those hundreds of years ago. I would have probably used a horse to get from one end of the palace to the other! Then again, it was the Emperor’s palace, so I wouldn’t have been moving about anyway. Ha!
After that we went to Tiananmen Square, which is located in the center of Beijing. I quickly learned that what we (the western world) talk about, in terms of what happened there in 1989, is not the same that the Chinese people or government talk about. So I’ll choose not to discuss it here.
Thursday evening the three of us walked across the street from the hotel to the CUC and taught our courses to a group of music business students, some of whom we had previously met when a group of them came to MTSU in July. They had a beautiful campus, and the students’ attendance to our lectures was optional. That made speaking in the class even better; knowing we were teaching students who really wanted to learn more about the music industry in America.
The conference on Friday was all day. The morning portion consisted of several keynote addresses, including from members of the government. We were able to understand what was being said because we had translation devices. At times I felt like I was sitting in the UN, listening to Chinese in one ear and English in the other. It really was quite the learning experience being able to hear what was going on. It was even nicer that the conference organizers had taken the time to create separate folders for the few of us, less than a dozen English speaking American, British and Australian guest speakers.
All of the afternoon and evening sessions were breakout sessions. I was part of a mixed panel and presentation format, which was pretty cool, I think. It was definitely different than what I’m used to. But it gave us a chance to interact with the audience (they also had translation devices), as we talked about changes in the music business landscape.
Throughout the day, I had a chance to learn more about some of the challenges in the music industry in China. There’s a lot of work still be done there for them to even come close to where we are in western countries; especially regarding copyright laws and live entertainment. But being able to hear about some of the things they are working on and trying to do helped to make this whole experience well worth the flight.
Never stop learning. Never stop sharing.