My name is Jordan Meehan. I grew up in the tiny town of Roodhouse, Illinois, and made my way to Xavier University for my undergraduate degree. At Xavier, I was a student, RA, an advocate for men to stop sexual assault, had amazing friends, and was a Brueggeman Fellow. I graduated in 2009 with a degree in Theology and minors in Gender and Diversity studies as well as Peace Studies. It sounds a little geeky on paper, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
The goal behind my Fellowship experience was to investigate and to see ‘on the ground’ what the relationship between Tibet and China looked like to real, everyday people. To paraphrase: the Tibetan and Chinese governments for years have feuded and told two very different stories. Tibet says that they are free and should be independent from China, while China asserts that Tibet has and always will be a part of China. I was curious to explore not what the governments’ words were, but how regular Chinese and Tibetan people saw themselves and each other.
In the fall of 2009, I spent nearly two months abroad in China; Kathmandu, Nepal; and Dharamsala, India. Throughout my time, I visited museums, historical sights, and monasteries. More importantly, on top of these visits, I stayed with and conversed with everyday people that I met through couchsurfing.org and met along the way in my travels. One of the most memorable moments was being invited by a young man, my age to share a meal with his family to celebrate the traditional Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival – much like Thanksgiving. As well, in Dharamsala, I was able to attend a big, once a year teaching by the Dali Lama near his home.
From the conversations I had and the information that I gathered, I would describe the everyday, on the ground perspective as follows. Tibetan people feel and are oppressed. There are poor living conditions and a noticeable presence of Chinese military. At the same time, this is the way not only Tibetans live, but most of the Chinese people. However, everyday Chinese people, would see themselves above or better than Tibetans, in the same was as any unfortunate racial superiority or inferiority complex that our country and the world has seen throughout history. Those of Chinese origin would also have more access to social mobility than Tibetans. On the issue of Governmental sovereignty, Tibetans ache for freedom from China, while the everyday Chinese would mostly likely not be bothered by its loss.
What They're Doing Now
I have spent the last three years managing a local coffee shop, and enjoying my time being involved in the community and in the inner workings of a small business. In 2013, I will be returning to Xavier for a Masters in Early Childhood Education in hopes of becoming an influential and super-fun grade school teacher.