Yiwu and a Hospital Adventure
Greetings from Hangzhou,
We write from a lovely hotel in the heart of Hangzhou. We’re in the midst of a weekend excursion to the south of Shanghai. It’s been tiring but ultimately very fruitful. We’re seeing things we never otherwise would have seen without the guidance and expertise of Professor Kelley.
Most interesting for our business interests was our trip to the epicenter of the commodity world, Yiwu. Yiwu is home to the world’s largest commodity markets – it’s the underbelly of our consumerist world. The raw statistics are astonishing: the floor area covers over 45,000,000 sq. feet, there are more than 70,000 stores and booths, products are exported to over 215 countries and regions. If you have ever bought something, there’s a good chance that object made it’s way to your store by way of Yiwu.
We were able to spend some time walking the rows and rows (and rows and rows) of booths selling quite literally anything you can imagine. It’s impossible to overstate the markets’ size and scope. The jewelry section feels endless; we couldn’t believe so many different designs even existed. Most of it is of low quality and really personifies the “Made in China” stereotype of cheap and low-quality goods. But some other objects, like vases and electronics, are the type of thing you might find at a Michaels or TJMaxx and pay real money for. We attempted to negotiate to purchase a few things for ourselves, but a foreigner pointed upwards from us meaning “one,” was interpreted as a request to order “one-thousand.” Oh well, maybe we weren’t cut out to be commodity exporters.
In other BRIC news, Marissa got out of the hospital Tuesday (she dislocated her knee on Friday), and she has been having fun in her wheelchair. Here is her recap of her hospital stay:
“At first it was pretty scary being in a hospital in China, especially with a knee that resembled a watermelon. I learned a lot about non-verbal communication, as almost everyone (including my WONDERFUL nurse) did not speak English. Also, as it turns out, hospital food in China is pretty much the same as America with an Asian flare: toast for breakfast, noodles for lunch, rice for dinner! One highlight was on Monday afternoon when one of the IES staff was visiting me, I got to hear the story of my nurse—it was pretty incredible. This woman lives in the hospital (she sleeps on a chair), and she has not left in five years. She works every day to save money for her son to go to college and have a better life. The most striking thing about the story was her philosophy on life: “you’ve got to be happy, don’t take things too seriously.” It was a beautiful and humbling conversation. Overall, the hospital was as good of an experience as I could have asked for under the circumstances, especially with the support of Michelle, IES, International SOS, and my fellow BRIC students (Zak and Justin even brought me CAKE!)”
More to come soon!
– Guy, Andrew A, Marissa