Willie is a graduate of Humboldt State University, located on the Redwood coast of California. A geography major with focuses on energy and the environment, Willie spent Fall ’08 to Spring ’09 living in Xi’an, China studying Chinese and exploring the rich complexities of modern Chinese society. Currently an intern with National Geographic International Editions division, he used the summer to travel across Eurasia by land on the Trans-Siberian railway. A return to California in December will complete the full global circumnavigation.
Before joining National Geographic this fall as an intern in the International Editions division of the magazine, I spent a year living in the ancient Chinese capital of Xi’an learning about Chinese language and culture. The opportunity to use what I’ve learned in the classroom was primarily the domain of the market. Part practical and part passion, the markets of Xi’an were my second classroom. The buying, selling, and haggling of the market was a part of my everyday life.
It can be said that China is just one big marketplace where everything imaginable is bought and sold. It’s true and just as China has many strata of people- the farmer, the laborer, the businessman, and the bureaucrat to name a few- so are the ways and means of shopping stratified. From the sidewalk to the flea market and from the Wal-Mart to the department store and everywhere in between- commerce defines the lives and life of the city.