Peter Hessler on His Surprising First Trip to China

I first went to China in 1994, after finishing two years of graduate school at Oxford. I had studied English language and literature, which I enjoyed, but I realized that I wanted to do something different with my career. I knew that I wanted to write but I wasn’t sure how or where. And I had long considered joining the Peace Corps — I first applied during college, and I was on track to go to Africa as a teacher when I got a fellowship to Oxford. So I cancelled that first Peace Corps application and went to England.