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OBSERVATIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE 2018 NAFB DELEGATION TO CHINA
Source: by Monte James (Your Ag Network, Inc., Yankton, SD)

Editor's note: Following is one of the farm broadcasters' comments about their recent trip to China with the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB).

Being a team member of the NAFB Journey to China will always be one of the highlights of my career, and life, as well. The fact the U.S. and China's tariff/trade war escalated to a head during our time there made it all the more memorable as a broadcaster. I can honestly say I've never had the opportunity to be on the front lines of such an historical event.

My expectations of China were very minimal, to say the least, going in. I anticipated it to be a country with high crime and poverty but rich in rules and restrictions. Instead, I found it to be a charming and stunningly beautiful land steeped in tradition and diverse culture. We had the opportunity to hear personal experiences from our two full-time tour guides as well as individual hosts and hostesses from the five cities that we visited.

I was shocked by the honest and extremely personal stories they shared with us involving topics like: growing up in times of famine, bound feet, and the radical "urbanization" of China's vast rural areas. Never during our two weeks touring China by "bullet-train," bus, and plane did I feel the least bit threatened or gawked at, or that anyone was trying to restrict our movements or reporting. On the contrary, I felt that the people were eager to share with us.

We had numerous grinning children come up to our group on the train ride between Xi'an and Chengdu and offer us gifts of pumpkin seeds and hard candy in exchange for a simple high-five. They wanted nothing in return, which was refreshing. I found myself drifting away from the group tours and wandering off into the night to mingle with people on the streets and shops in the areas around our hotel.

Again, I never felt in danger nor did I feel anger from people regarding the ongoing trade issues between our two super-power countries. I felt nothing but kindness and a great pride in their country. I tip my hat to Custom Travel Network and NAFB for organizing such an educational and splendid tour! Some of my broadcasting highlights included interviewing Ambassador Branstad, seeing the barges come in from across the world to the port of Guangzhou, and the jaw-dropping "wet-market."

On a personal level, visiting the Terra Cotta Army in Xi'an has been a lifetime goal and dream come true. The quality of hotels and travel companions also were off the charts (in a good way). I can honestly say that this tour has not only changed my perspective about China but it also has solidified my belief that there are good people all across the planet. I hope I have conveyed that to our network listeners since arriving back from this most memorable of journeys.


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