Bridging Local Communities

In my cultural geography class, we’ve been talking a lot about place and region and how certain areas come to be. How are cities and towns arranged in relation to each other and the natural environment? What kind of barriers, whether physical or perceptual, develop to separate people? Who are the individuals who live in a certain area and what makes them both similar and unique?

Part of a workers’ village in Shanghai.

An upscale apartment building.

A look inside one of Shanghai’s slums.

All of this talk reminded me of an experience I had while on a field trip to local communities in Shanghai. After exploring the diverse socioeconomic statuses of the city’s inhabitants by stopping at various locations such as a workers’ village, an expensive apartment building, and the slums, we wound up on a bridge that spanned a river and showcased one of the most interesting sights I have ever seen. High-rises, art studios, gardens, and offices rose above on one side of the water while on the other, much of the poorer population lived in a shantytown made up of deteriorating shacks.

A view from the bridge.

Art studios and offices on one side.

A much poorer neighborhood on the other side.

This isn’t something new at all, or even specific to the place I was in. Even in Los Angeles, many poor neighborhoods are only a short drive away from upscale areas such as Beverly Hills and Bel Air. But to see a division like this separated only by a river was astonishing.

I’m glad that I am taking this class to understand geography better because it really is an interesting subject. Geography plays such a big role in how we lived in the past, how we live in the present, and of course, how we will live in the future.

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