The Chinese Choice

Trudy Joseph didn’t choose China. China chose her.

In 2007, the now 39 year old trade economist was at a juncture in her life, considering her next move in life after completing her Bachelor’s degree at The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.

A perennial scholarship applier, Trudy says she believes the stars were aligned and it was made possible for her to head over to the University of Shanghai to pursue studies for a Masters degree.

“I was always applying for scholarships so I was pretty well known to the staff in the Ministry. When they told me about this particular scholarship it was the last day to apply. But because I was always applying, I had the information on me so I just took it in.

“Why I said China chose me, it was because all I was missing was a transcript from UWI and they usually take a long time to give you, but I got it the next day. I sent it in and I didn’t think about it again. Then I got called for an interview. I went and on my birthday, April 12, 2007, they called to tell me that I got the scholarship. Everything for that trip just fell into place,” she explained excitedly as the memories came flooding back.

But while Trudy was excited about obtaining a full scholarship to do her Masters, travelling to the other side of the world didn’t sound as exciting. At least not at first.

“I was sceptical because of the distance though and I had just gotten my bachelors. I was like oh my, that is so far, three years is a long time. But with the encouragement of my mother, I went and got back in one piece,” she added.

Trudy said life in China took some getting used to, but once she got accustomed to it, things went smoothly and now she is one who ‘raves about China to no end’.

“In my first year there, I cried so bad every single day. I was the only person from the Caribbean at that university. But then I made a friend coming down to the end of my first year and she helped me to adapt and took me around and showed me how to read the map and so on.

“We took the negatives I experienced in my first year and turned them into positive.

“I used to feel bad in the first year, but then I started to look at things differently and I started to mingle with the people more. I started to teach English to small children while I was there and I really enjoyed it. I’m one of the people who would say now if I had to go back tomorrow I would,” she said proudly.

She described her time in China as an experience of a lifetime and one that helped to shape the woman she is today.

“The culture allows you to have an open mind. It allows you to appreciate persons of all cultures and all races. So when you come back, you come back with a more open mind towards people. You appreciate each person for their peculiarity.”

Trudy added, “I found that it allows you to see the world as your market place. You weren’t closed in to just working in Barbados or the regular places like Canada and USA that persons would look too.

“You were now ready and willing to be an employee anywhere because you felt comfortable knowing and finding appreciation for different cultures. So that I still have.”

Speaking passionately about all she learnt in China, Trudy said she returned to Barbados in 2010 with a passion and a zeal to help to implement all of what she had learned, in an effort to make Barbados a better place.

“Coming back to Barbados, you come back accustomed to a system that runs seamlessly, I came back energized to get into areas where I could make change for the better because you were exposed to it.

“You tend to expect simple things like the transport system, timeliness of delivery of service, things that you get accustomed to,” Trudy said.

Speaking specifically to her area of trade, Trudy says she believes there is much potential for growth.

“For me I would have liked to be poised in a place to help bring those things up to where it should be. Even in my field of trade, you see how organizations out there function, and you come back with the enthusiasm to get things going,” she added.

Trudy stressed that she would encourage anyone who had an opportunity to study in China, to grab it with both hands and take full advantage of it.

“I would encourage any person to have the experience studying or living abroad. My years in China were a mix of emotions. I studied hard, but missed my family.

“But I added to that family with the friends I made. I was also gravely ill in my last year. But all said and done, China is indeed my second home and I now have friends from all over the world because of it,” she added.