So now it’s round four and I am back in Asia.  This time I am living in Hong Kong after spending my first three months back in the region in Shenzhen, which is right across the border and about 10 miles from where my apartment in Hong Kong.  Yet it might as well be another world because you can’t access the New York Times, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and myriad other sites without a VPN and good luck trying to buy any foreign news publication.  Shenzhen sometimes feels like the zombie version of Hong Kong.  Lots of shopping, tall buildings, a metro that looks and feels much like the MTR here, but devoid of any outward connection to what is going on in the real world.  I would go back and forth between there and HK via ferry and the minute I stepped off the ferry in HK, it was like entering the world of the living.  Everything seems so much more vibrant on this side of the border given the connections to the outside world and the fact that people have unfettered access to information, which really affects the vibe of a place.  However, the freedoms HK enjoys as enshrined in the “one country, two systems” model agreed upon before the handover in 1997 seem to be in jeopardy as China gets more aggressive in challenging and slowly eroding the safeguards built into the model.  Definitely interesting times to be here, which I hope you’ll be able to experience with me through this latest round of my blog.

Before this latest round, the last time I was in China for a sustained period of time was when I went back to Linyi to teach U.S. business law to 93 rising sophomores who stuck around for a special summer session.  On that trip I spent my first three days in China in Beijing to slowly re-acclimate to the country after being away for nearly two years.  I highly recommend this approach because it made arriving in Linyi less jarring than the first time and also let me see how Beijing had changed since I was last there in April 2009.  Midway through my teaching, we had a random Friday off for the Dragon Boat festival (端午节), so I met up with a friend in Shanghai for the long weekend.  Another great trip and contrast to Linyi, which has undergone its own changes in the past two years with the arrival of a Subway, more malls, and of course more apartment blocks.  After Linyi, I’m off to Hong Kong for a week to do some work and catch up with old friends.  China never ceases to amaze me with its chaos, ambition, and contradictions at every turn.  Read along to follow my journey as I navigate these changes and wrestle with some old questions that never quite seem to get answered.

Round two of this blog began when I left another job in Big Law and traipsed on out to Linyi, China in Shandong province with no idea what to expect from a city of nearly 11 million people that I had never heard of.  I was sent here by the University of New Haven to teach a three-week intensive U.S. business law class to 113 college juniors.  I had a textbook that is used in the States to teach undergraduates the same subject, but my students were business students who knew nothing about American law, let alone Chinese law.  It was sure to be a very different experience than my year teaching in Guangzhou at Sun Yat-sen University as a Yale-China Teaching Fellow.  How different, I was about to find out.  Read all about my teaching and life in a “country city” here.

During the summer of 2008, after four years of living in New York City, I decided to pick myself up and move to Guangzhou (广州), China where I was one of four Yale-China Teaching Fellows teaching English classes at Sun Yat-sen University, known locally as 中大.  I taught various classes that were self-designed with one of my colleagues, including one called “The Constitution in Theory and Practice” the other called “Persuasive Rhetoric: How to Convince Anyone of Anything”.  In my spare time, I took Chinese lessons with different tutors, familiarized myself with the law clinic on campus, and navigatedthe crazy and exciting streets of 广州.  Before upping myself and moving to China, I had been living in New York where I finished up my J.D. at Columbia Law School and worked for two years at Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP in the corporate department, while starting and building a legal clinic at the KIPP Academy in the Bronx.  Many, many years ago I grew up in Marlboro, New Jersey, where my parents still live and is where I still consider home given that throughout my 20s I have moved to a new city at least once every four years.

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6 Responses to “A Little Bit About Me”

  1. Ricky Says:

    Peter! I hope you are doing well, and having a great time in China! I am following your adventures on the blog.

    My apologies for having been out of touch. I was zipping all over the world from July-August, and now I am in the trenches of law school applications, and LSAT studying. I will be happy when October is over.

    I will shoot you an email later on when things settle down a bit.

    Take care of yourself, and please tell me about authentic Chinese food. For some reason I find that subject fascinating.

    Hugs,
    Ricky

  2. Vivian Says:

    Peter! Just checking in to see what you are doing in China! Hope all is well! Glad to see that you are spending your time better than I am!

  3. Wendy Says:

    Hi Peter, Very interesting article. I agree with you that china civic path got a long way to go.
    I was just back from my china visit. I went to meet up with another professor in Yat-Sun university on NGO development issues. Hope you enjoy your time in China.

  4. Lauren Says:

    Hi I’m a student from Australia researching the Tiananmen Sqaure Massacre… your article about shopping locally gave me a good laugh 😀
    Have a nice day 🙂
    Lauren
    P.S. I wish my bread could be a sandwich as good as Italy Bread…


  5. Hi, nice to meet you !

  6. Dilip Says:

    Hi interesting blog! I am from India and I love to view the world as one without national boundaries!Wish you good luck and a happy new year 2011.
    Dilip


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