Date of this Version
AA LL Spectrum, April 2009, pp 10-13, 35.
Last October, I had the privilege of leading a delegation of (mostly) law librarians on a 10-day professional visit to Beijing and ghai, China. The goal of the trip was to get acquainted with Chinese legal bibliography and China's legal system. The visit was arranged and facilitated by the People to People International Citizen Ambassadors Program headquartered in Spokane, Washington. (If you haven't heard of the organization, please check out its Web site at jwptpAi.so rsgta.)t ed on the Web site, "The purpose of People to People International is to enhance international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural, and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences directly among peoples of different countries and diverse cultures." Most of the delegation assembled in Los Angeles and got acquainted in the Tom Bradley International Terminal of LAX. After a grueling 14 and a half hour trans-Pacific flight, the delegation landed in Hong Kong, picked up the remainder of our delegation, and prepared for the three-hour flight to Beijing. As we descended from the clouds into the morning haze and caught our first glimpse of Beijing, we began to realize just how vast China is, and our hearts sank at the enormity of our group's goals. How in the world can we even begin to learn the first thing about a country of such size and history? In the end, we brought away two profound lessons. First, we found that despite our differences, law librarians in both countries have much in common, and we were all anxious to learn from one another. Second, we found that China was much bigger in person than we could have ever imagined. Much like the Grand Canyon, nothing other than actually being there and meeting it face to face can prepare you for its immensity. Beijing is the second-largest city in China, after Shanghai, with a population of around 18 million in an area just under 6,500 square miles-making it nearly identical in size to New-York City. Just as it-would be naive to think that a foreigner can visit the United States for a week and learn about our legal system and system of legal bibliography, so it is for a visitor to China.