Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ryan Pyle Blog: Looking Back...........Toronto


I've been wanting to write this blog for about a week now, but something has always come up and postponed it; well not today.

I wanted a moment to reflect on my most recent trip back to Toronto. I had originally planned the trip back to Toronto for my brothers wedding and a bit of time with family. But that soon became just the anchor to what was an intense week of photography and lecturing.

First off, having stayed in touch with my former Chinese Politics professor at the University of Toronto, I was invited back to the university in late February to give two lectures to 2nd and 3rd year undergrad classes studying contemporary Chinese Politics. I was really pleased to have had this opportunity and I embraced it.

I prepared a two hour lecture on some of the negative impacts of rapid Chinese economic growth, using a basic model that there are essentially two China's; the urban centers and the countryside - and the gap between them widens further each year. Supporting this main argument I touched on local corruption, environmental destruction, land rights, poverty, health care and education. I intertwined a lot of facts and statistics with a lot of personal stories about hair raising experiences doing journalism work in China - it was great fun. It was also the first time I have ever stood up and talked for 2 hours, but once I got cracking along it was easy enough. The class was well received and I know many of the students enjoyed a change of pace from the regular lectures delivered by the professors. I've since been invited back to lecture again next year, once my final plans are formalized for my next trip to Toronto.

Hopefully some of the students have signed on to the blog and are keeping watch of all the turmoil that has been happening recently. But I'll save those details for another blog - some time soon.

So, the lecturing went well and it is absolutely something I would like to do in the future; not just at the University of Toronto but at other institutions as well. I feel that my day to day life in China, and my photojournalism work in the country offers me a unique perspective that I want to share with as many people as possible. Obviously I would love to write a book about some of these issues some day, but alas finding the time is just not possible at the moment.

The second portion of the trip back to Toronto involved my very first photography exhibition. The topic was Chinese Turkistan, also known as the province of Xinjiang province in northwestern China. I have spent a significant amount of time in the last two years traveling in Xinjiang, attempting to document life and culture - I felt this first stage of the project was a success. I called the show Chinese Turkistan because I wanted the imagery to remind people of the special Silk Road history and wealth of culture that exists in this very special region of China. I felt the show was well attended and very well received and I am hoping to continue on with another show next year in 2009. The only question that remains is the venue, whether we will be in Toronto again or perhaps London, UK. Hopefully I'll know in the next few months.

The last stop of my trip back to Toronto was to be the best man at my brothers wedding. Now, I don't talk much about my personal life on this blog, and it's safe to assume that won't change anytime soon, but it was great to be back and catch up with a lot of family and friends that I hadn't seen in ages. When you live a long way away, going back and having everyone together for one special night is a great thing. A true pleasure.

More soon.


Ryan Pyle

1 comment:

  1. Derrick00:04

    glad you enjoyed yourself at home. boy i wish i was in the UofT lecture halls to hear you talk.

    Which professor were you talking about? was it falkenheim? i had a blast in his classes..



This is Ryan Pyle. I appreciate you adding a comment to my blog and I hope that this space has offered you something useful and interesting. I look forward to staying in touch and I'm glad you took the time to comment.

Ryan Pyle