Five years ago, a teacher left our school (which was then called Murdoch Middle School) to come to China to teach. This past weekend, I met with Mr. Banaszewski in Shanghai. It was fun to catch up and hear about his time in China. Having grown up in Massachusetts, it was certainly a leap of faith for him to move all the way across the globe. It must have been scary, but he is clearly happy with his choice, as he is entering his 6th year living in Shanghai. I asked him to record a message for Innovation Academy students, and here’s what he had to say:
I hope you will consider his invitation to travel — to see China and other places around the world. There are so many amazing spots to experience!
After spending the weekend in Shanghai, I can understand why he fell in love with that place and decided to stay there. There is so much to learn about this country’s rich history, and there is always more to explore because China’s cities are HUGE. While it is difficult to get exact numbers, estimates put the population of New York at about 8 million today. Shanghai has about 23 million people, almost three times larger. Most of this size represents growth from the past 30 years. In 1949, the population of Shanghai was about 4.3 million, and 30 years later in 1979, it was at 5 million. The population growth recently has been enormous. Shanghai’s land area is growing to try to keep up, and now has 6340 square kilometers (compared to 785 square kilometers in New York city). Shanghai is so big that it’s hard to conceptualize its scale — the photo above shows a model of the city from the Urban Planning Museum.
I’m trying to include some more photographs that show off the color of Shanghai, but the internet is slow and I will have to add more later. Now I am back in the Beijing area, outside of the city in a semi-rural district called Fangshan. I’m looking forward to learning more about the difference between city and country life here, and I’ll try to share what I can!