Iowa expat finds China connection

By Alison Sullivan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-07-11 07:01:49

Iowa expat finds China connection
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Iowa expat finds China connection
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Both Iowa and China have a lot of experience with an aging population. Iowa has one of the largest concentrations of elderly people - 65 and older - in the United States. In 2012, the state had an elderly population of more than 47,000 people, according to the US Census Bureau. The state ranks fifth in the percentage of its elderly population and predictions are that the population will grow.

China has a reported 200 million people over the age of 60, according to various news reports. In Beijing, I often see the elderly out and about, walking, talking to their neighbors, or playing with grandchildren. It reminds me of the issues that both regions face with a significant aging population. These issues include healthcare, sufficient elderly services and a younger generation stepping up to take care of those who once raised them.

On a lighter note, I quickly recognized our mutual love for noodles. As a college student, instant noodles are pretty much a regular and affordable staple in my diet. In Beijing noodles are a part of everyday cuisine and an essential part of northern Chinese dishes. I'm happy to report that noodles continue to be a prominent part of my meals and are just as affordable.

I've also experienced uncomfortable heat in both Iowa and Beijing. Iowa can be unbearably hot in the summer, with humidity that leads to regular sweating. I've sweated a few times during my Beijing life, however I must confess it's usually at dinnertime while I'm slurping down my spicy beef noodles.

Who knew I'd travel more than 10,000 kilometers to be swept away in a city both unique and sprinkled with themes I've long known since childhood. Despite stark differences in customs and language there are some universal issues we share. And if a Beijinger sat down next to an Iowan on the subway, it would turn to be an interesting conversation.

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