In Journeying in China, authors from diverse international backgrounds explore the history, culture, and unique wonders of China. The contributors include students, educators, a wildlife conservationist, a wine expert, and a martial arts instructor, among many others. Salma Ibrahim, a professor at Sichuan International University, edited the book and is also a featured contributor.

Ibrahim spoke with PW about connecting with the essayists, compiling the collection, and about her own relationship with the vibrant and diverse nation.

What can you share about the origins of Journeying in China? What made you set out to create this project?

The project was initiated to create a collection of anecdotes from foreigners who have worked and lived in China. The motivation behind this project could be to provide a diverse and comprehensive perspective on the experiences of individuals from different countries who have encountered life in China. By sharing their stories, the book aims to offer readers a nuanced understanding of China through the eyes of foreigners.

What can you share about your own relationship with China? What continues to interest and inspire you as you travel in China yourself?

China is a vast and diverse country with a rich history, culture, and a rapidly evolving society. Many travelers and researchers are drawn to China due to its unique blend of ancient traditions and modern developments. China's economic growth, technological advancements, and global influence are also subjects of great interest. Exploring China allows one to witness the interplay between tradition and innovation, experience diverse landscapes, taste regional cuisines, and engage with its hospitable people.

Tell me about the contributing authors and how you first connected with them? How does each essay enhance the work as a whole?

The contributing authors of Journeying in China are individuals from various countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Syria, and others. I got connected with these authors through personal networks, academic collaborations, or by reaching out to individuals with experience living and working in China.

Each essay in the book enhances the work as a whole by providing a unique perspective on China. The diverse backgrounds and nationalities of the authors allow for a broader representation of experiences and viewpoints. This variety enriches the readers' understanding of China, as they get to explore different cultural lenses through which China is perceived.

How did you go about thematically organizing the collection?

I grouped the essays based on common topics, experiences, or themes such as cultural adaptation and culture shock, language learning and barriers, daily life experiences, professional challenges, intercultural interactions, personal growth, and reflections on China's history and future. This thematic structure would help create a cohesive narrative and facilitate readers' exploration of specific aspects of life in China. By organizing the collection thematically, it becomes easier for readers to navigate and understand the diverse range of experiences shared by the contributors.

What are some interesting and perhaps surprising things readers will learn about China from reading this book?

Through the anecdotes and observations of the contributing authors, readers may learn about the cultural nuances, societal norms, and everyday interactions in China. The book provides insights into the challenges and rewards of living and working in a foreign country, as well as sheds light on the aspirations and dreams of those who choose to embark on such journeys. Readers might also gain a deeper understanding of the complexity and diversity of China, going beyond common stereotypes and preconceptions.

Reading Journeying in China can offer readers a multifaceted, nuanced perspective and various interesting and surprising insights about China. Some examples might include:

- The diversity and complexity of Chinese culture, as experienced and interpreted by foreigners.

- The challenges and rewards of adapting to a new language and cultural environment.

- The stark contrasts between rural and urban areas in China.

- Unique customs, traditions, and etiquette in different regions of China.

- The fast-paced economic development and technological advancements in Chinese society.

- Personal anecdotes about Chinese hospitality, generosity, and kindness.

- The impact of China's history, including its dynasties, revolutions, and political changes, on its modern society.

What do you hope readers take away from reading Journeying in China?

Journeying in China aims at broadening readers' perspectives, fostering cross-cultural understanding, and encouraging dialogue. The book may inspire readers to explore China, engage with its people, and appreciate the richness of its culture. By sharing the experiences and reflections of individuals from different countries, the book may also promote empathy, dispel stereotypes, and encourage readers to embrace diversity. Ultimately, the hope might be for readers to develop a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of our global community and to approach cross-cultural encounters with curiosity and respect.

I hope that readers will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for China through the diverse perspectives shared in Journeying in China. The book aims to promote cross-cultural understanding, challenge stereotypes, and offer a nuanced portrayal of the country. By delving into the experiences, aspirations, and observations of the contributors, readers may develop a more comprehensive and empathetic view of China and its people.