Language instructor Soh Bor-am teaches eight Mandarin classes a day, as Chinese tourism to South Korea swells. Elise Hu/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Elise Hu/NPR

Protesters burn tires to demonstrate against the inter-oceanic canal in Rivas, Nicaragua, on Dec. 22, 2014. HKND Group, a Chinese company, began work on a $50 billion canal, an ambitious rival to the Panama Canal. AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption AFP/Getty Images

Sam Li, 52 (center, lime green) has been playing 9-man volleyball for nearly 30 years and keeps up with the younger players. Kainaz Amaria/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Kainaz Amaria/NPR