Since this is my first post after one first week in Xi’an I will try to keep it a decent length because there really is so much to say about just arriving, first impressions and starting work.

I survived the voyage and a grueling 14 hour flight from Washington/Dulles to Beijing, China and arrived, with luggage, safely in Xi’an September 9 at 10pm. Yu Cui, a PhD candidate in plant biotechnology at Shaanxi Normal University, found me in the arrivals. Gratefully, she has been put in charge of looking after me by Dr. Wang, the Dean of the biology department and host of the Students for Development internship. After getting acquainted with Yu cui and a friend from the biology department we waited for Katie the other intern from Saint Mary’s University. We arrived at our apartment after an introduction to Xi’an late night food.

The first week has been very successful. I have settled into the apartment and overcome jet-lag, for the most part. The food has been very good and generally agreeing with me. Tuesday I began work at the university where I settled into the biology department very easily. It seems that two Canadians in the department qualify as celebrities. We have met many graduate students as well as profs who were very happy to meet u,s offering any sort of assistance. Many of the profs invited us to work in their offices. Everyone is eager to practice conversing in English. I have set up in one of the biology graduate student offices where our colleagues have made us feel at home, offering tea and eating lunch en masse in the cafeteria.

The challenges in this first week at work has been twofold. Firstly, the assumption that because I am working in the biology department must mean that I am also a biologist conducting experimental research in a laboratory setting. It has taken some time to correct assumptions; plant biotechnology is not my interest but the farmers and their communities who plant them. The second challenge has been getting to know the program that I will be investigating. Resources in English are a little hard to come by, so far. The biology department at the Chinese university is part of the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for the cultivation, processing and distribution of traditional Chinese medicinal (TCM) plants. The GAP in TCM is supported by the government of China and governs a complex of state policies and financial support, public research institutes (ie. universities), private medicinal companies and farmers or farmer associations. This week was filled by trying to understand the basics of this program through conversations with a variety of helpful profs and ending with a lengthy google scholar search.

Since this internship involves investigation into Chinese food security I leave you with an issue of the Nation which offers a populist food perspective from the leading spokespeople of this perspective. I hope you enjoy it!

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