Bryant Faculty and Student Research Trip
China Blog "Follow Me"
Margaret Wong '14 and Bakhtiyar Baidaralin '12
Today we walked the steps of China’s ancestors and great patriots. We traveled from the 17 th century to the 20 th century. We witnessed the everyday lives of the first two Qing emperors and their courts in the 17 th century. Then, we stepped into early 20 th century warlord-era China and observed the great sacrifices made by two heroes of northeastern China.
Margaret: The Shenyang Imperial Palace was built in 1625 and the home to two Qing Dynasty emperors, Nurhaci and Huangtaiji. It was the first palace for Qing Dynasty emperors and was only occupied until 1644, when the Qing Dynasty defeated the Ming Dynasty and moved to the capital, the Beijing Forbidden City. Nurhaci was responsible for starting the Qing Dynasty when he conquered all of the Jurchen lands, but unfortunately, he died before he reached the Beijing Imperial Palace to overthrow the Ming Dynasty. Luckily, his son, Huangtaiji, took over the throne after the death of his father, and continued his father’s dream by overthrowing the Ming Dynasty and officially relocating the Qing Dynasty to the Beijing Forbidden City.
The Shenyang Imperial Palace was only 1/12 the size of the Beijing Forbidden City mainly because it was only home to two Qing emperors whereas the latter was home to all Ming and Qing emperors. The main building of the Shenyang Imperial Palace is the Dazheng Hall. What surprised me the most was how the Dazheng Hall was built with only wood and no nails, but still stands to this day. It was also built in the shape of an octagon to symbolize the Manchu Eight Banners military system. We also visited the Yongfu Palace, which was the home to Concubine Zhuang, one of the most legendary figures among the Concubines of the early Qing Dynasty.
Many Chinese, including our Shenyang tour guide, Aidan Sui, believes that the Shenyang Imperial Palace is closer to their hearts than the Beijing Forbidden City because it is smaller and relates to the latest history, the Qing Dynasty. Most of our group agreed that we also enjoyed the Shenyang Imperial Palace more than the Beijing Forbidden City because it was less crowded. We also felt special because we only saw two other non-Chinese tourists at the site and took photos with a large Beijing-native family. We found each other because they were staring at “the foreigners.” Meanwhile we were staring at them because of their extraordinarily cute, matching outfits.
On a lark we stopped at a costume shop to rent a costume for Bahktiyar and one for me. Walking through the halls of the Shenyang Imperial Palace in formal royal attire customized with a phoenix, I was the First Lady of a Qing Emperor. In a video segment that was targeted towards educating “our audience” about the formal royal attire of the Qing Dynasty, Bakhtiyar and I impersonated a Qing Emperor and a First Lady. Only two individuals were allowed to wear attire with dragons on them, the emperor and the successor, which was chosen by the emperor. Bakhtiyar’s costume included a dragon with five claws, designed only for the emperor, whereas the successor is only allowed to wear attire with a dragon that has four claws. My costume included a phoenix, which is reserved only for the First Lady’s attire.
Our “Follow Me” video schedule for today included videos of both language and culture. Bakhtiyar and I produced Chinese videos in the Shenyang Imperial Palace describing the four imperial palaces in China, focusing on the differences between the Beijing Forbidden City and the Shenyang Imperial Palace. The four imperial palaces are the Beijing Forbidden City, the Shenyang Imperial Palace, the Nanjing Imperial Palace, and the Taipei Imperial Palace (more commonly known as the Taipei National Palace Museum). We also discussed the difference in size between the Beijing Forbidden City and the Shenyang Imperial Palace. In our second video, we explained the emphasis on the Han Language on plaques in the Beijing Forbidden City and the emphasis on the Manchu Language on plaques in the Shenyang Imperial Palace. The Chinese believe that the left is more important than the right. In the Beijing Forbidden City, the Han Language is on the left side of plaques and the Manchu Language is on the right, whereas in the Shenyang Imperial Palace, the Manchu Language is on the left side of plaques and the Han Language is on the right.
Shenyang Imperial Palace Beijing Forbidden City
I was extremely excited about visiting the Shenyang Imperial Palace today because I was in charge of creating the briefing sheet for the site. I also did a lot of research on the Qing Dynasty, through movies, T.V. series, and books. Being able to see all my research come to life during our visit was amazing, minus the hot sun. When I was ten years old, I visited the Imperial Palace for the first time with my family. As it was my second time visiting the Shenyang Imperial Palace, I was able to learn more and actually digest all the information.
Bakhtiyar: Next we visited the Zhang Xueliang residence, which opened in 1988 as a museum during Deng Xiaoping’s “New Remembering.” Outside the walls of the compound is a large statue of Zhang Xueliang, affectionately known in China as the “Young Marshall.” His residence has a traditional Chinese north, south, east, and west wings, complete with courtyards and houses. His personal residence was built as a gift from his father and is strongly influenced by European architecture. His three story house, built of stone, has many rooms used for dining, studying, entertaining guests, and sleeping. To be honest, I felt like I was visiting one of the Newport Mansions in Rhode Island. Outside of his house was a small shrine that his father and he would visit before conflict to pay respect to the god of war Guan Gong.
Following the overthrow of the Republic of China in 1911, China was thrown into a period of turmoil during which many local warlords gained control over parts of the country. Zhang Zuolin, Zhang Xueliang’s father, was a prominent warlord in Northern China who controlled several provinces and commanded a large army. Zuolin was assassinated in 1928 by a Japanese bomb, leaving Zhang Xueliang the effective ruler of Northeastern China.
General Zhang was a notorious opium addict and the Japanese expected him to become their pawn. However, he sobered up and proclaimed his allegiance for the Kuomintang and their fight against Japanese aggression. When several warlords united to overthrow the Nanjing Government, Zhang Xueliang intervened on the behalf of Chiang Kai-Shek and helped unite several provinces. Following the Mukden Incident on his home soil, General Zhang withdrew his troops and avoided open battle with the Japanese. He was a no-nonsense commander who despised the infighting between the KMT and Communists. To create a United Front, he and several others kidnapped Chiang Kai-Shek on December 12, 1936 and forced him to negotiate with Mao Zedong’s right hand man, Zhou Enlai. This a bold move, known as the Xi’an Incident, put a temporary end to internal fighting and helped the Chinese forces unite together against Japan. After the negotiations, Chiang Kai-Shek was allowed to leave, and out of loyalty, Zhang Xueliang followed him back to Nanjing, but he was promptly arrested and put under house arrest. When the Nationalists were fleeing to Formosa (Taiwan), he was given a choice to stay, but again, out of loyalty to Chiang Kai-shek he chose to accompany the Nationalists and remained under arrest for the next forty years. Upon release, he moved to Hawaii and chose not to return to his homeland. He wanted to die on neutral ground and not to make a choice as to which China was his home.
General Zhang is a significant figure because both KMT and CPC governments regard him as a hero for his efforts against Japanese and for the unification of China. He was a true patriot whose main goal was to rid China’s soil of foreign invaders. His personal hatred and determination to defeat the Japanese stemmed from his father’s assassination. Upon his death, both the presidents of PRC and Taiwan sent their condolences.
After the tour of the mansion, we visited his personal bank. This bank oversaw the financial matters of Marshal Zhang’s government. The main lobby contained a dozen wax figures of 1920s era Chinese and Western customers using the bank’s services. The rest of the building was converted to a financial museum that documents the history of currency. Currency had humble beginnings from objects like seashells and evolved to the complex system we employ now. My favorite room in the bank museum had hundreds of different banknotes from different countries on display in thin Plexiglas towers. The later rooms all focused on the Yuan and its evolution over the past century, from Dynastic China to the current notes in circulation now. We finished our tour in a large lobby that housed a large replica of the Wall Street bull in the middle of the room. It was a really interesting museum and I enjoyed learning about the history of currency. The overwhelming majority of the visitors were Chinese and I was further impressed with the how well the Chinese honor their history.
Our wonderful night at a Muslim restaurant was bittersweet because Jason, who has been in China since late May with an internship at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, leaves tomorrow morning. We will miss his color coordinated outfits, his witticisms, his Jasonisms, and his invaluable contributions to our blogs. But most of all, we will miss his enthusiasm for the “Follow Me” project. Bon voyage.
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Today was another travel day. In the morning we said goodbye to Jason and sent him off on his way back to Washington D.C. Our flight was not until the late afternoon, so we all spent the rest of the morning checking our emails, packing, and getting ready for the next leg of the journey – the city of Wuhan. Wuhan is located in central China and is known as one of the “Three Ovens” due to the really hot temperatures in the summer. We will spend three days visiting the city and learning about its culture and significance to Chinese history. While we are there, we will be collaborating with our colleagues at the China University of Geosciences – Wuhan.
We had several hours of free time in Shenyang’s Taoxian International Airport and we used it to sleep. Bakhtiyar, Ryan, and JBL all took up three seats each as impromptu beds. After boarding the airplane, we all attended to our own matters and the three-hour flight to Wuhan was over before we knew it. For those of you just joining us, we are traveling across China and visiting different historical places. Our goal is to create several short educational documentaries for use in K-12 and college classrooms. Our documentaries cover significant events and places and teach Chinese language. We are sponsored by the Hanban, the Chinese Ministry of Education, whose goal is to promote Chinese culture across the entire world. Follow us and you will see!
We were personally met by the Vice-Dean of College of Arts, Jijun Yu, of China University of Geosciences (CUG) upon our arrival. He is a former Bryant University Confucius Institute Professor (2008-2009). CUG is one of China’s key universities and is known for its strong geology and engineering faculties. Bryant and CUG maintain a formal relationship and often exchange students and faculty to offer broader education. We are in good hands here!
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Margaret Wong '14
Hot! Very hot! Did I mention it was hot today? We survived a day in one of the “hot ovens” of China--Wuhan. There are three “hot ovens (????)” in China: Wuhan, Nanjing, and Chongqing--all on the Yangtze River.
Because it was so hot our host, Jijun Yu, Vice-Dean of the College of Arts at China University of Geosciences (CUG), tried his best to take us to indoor sites. We started our first day in Wuhan with exploring the Yifu Museum of CUG. Twenty-three years ago the museum started as a university museum, which was only open to students of CUG. In 2005, however it was finally opened to the public and local community and became a national AAAA tourist site. The museum houses six exhibition halls, including: Origin of Evolution of Life, Gems and Jade, Minerals and Rocks, Mineral Resources, etc. There were also awesome dinosaur skeletons in the center of the museum, which reminded me of other museums in the U.S. Although I was amazed by the massive amount of geology specimens displayed in the museum, it was hot. But that was OK because the museum is normally closed on Mondays. They opened it especially for us.
After the museum, we explored CUG’s school gym. On the way to the largest indoor rock climbing wall in China, we passed through many recreational areas including the largest badminton area that any of us has ever seen. There were at least a dozen courts in one room. According to the students, many people come to CUG just to rock climb! The fastest record achieved by a student has been eight seconds climbing from the bottom to the top of the wall (15 meters). Ryan and Bakhtiyar were up for the challenge but were not allowed to climb more than three meters because they did not wear safety gear.
It was so hot that Vice-Dean Yu suggested that we have lunch delivered and spend the afternoon talking about our “Follow Me” project. While waiting for our lunches to arrive, we watched a 42-minute documentary created by CUG students under the supervision of Vice-Dean Yu about two Americans from Bryant University who came to CUG to teach English for a year. It was called “Crane in the Clouds”. It was extremely well done. After lunch, we showed several CUG professors and students our “Follow Me” video segments from this trip and laughter filled the room because of our bloopers. They were quite impressed and said I was a great host (actor) in our videos! Collaborating with our fellow CUG professors and students, we spent the rest of our afternoon preparing for six video segments that will shoot tomorrow. Several students from CUG will also be featured in our videos!
We had dinner on a lake at a restaurant named ??? (zuixianglong) with CUG professors and students. They were extremely friendly and talkative. It was definitely one of the best meals we have had on this trip. By the way, did I mention we had great air conditioning?
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Bakhtiyar Baidaralin '12
The sun in Wuhan is just as unrelenting as it was yesterday. Today was a day of cuisine, culture, and history all packed into one. Our CUG hosts took us very early to make it to the famous Hubuxiang breakfast street before rush hour. We all stopped at a small noodle shop and ordered a Hubei Province favorite – “hot dry noodles.” It looked like simple pasta at first, but once we mixed in the sauce we were in for a culinary delight. They were very good and had JBL praising them for their simplicity and taste. The rest of the time at Hubuxiang was spent making a “Follow Me” documentary about buying food.
After breakfast we all boarded the van for one of Wuhan’s symbols; the Yellow Crane Tower. The tower itself was first built during the Three Kingdoms Period (approximately 220-280 CE) as a gathering place for the city’s literary elite. Throughout its history, it was destroyed many times during conflicts and always rebuilt. The last time it was rebuilt was in 1981 and is currently under state level protection as a symbol of the city. It is a complex of ponds, parks, and observation decks that all lead to the main building. The entire compound is located on a hill that offers many vantage points over the city. It maintained a reputation of hosting memorable parties, inspiring many poets, such as Cui Hao and Li Bai, to write poetry about it. Cui Hao’s famous poem, “Yellow Crane Tower,” is inscribed on a large stone wall along the path that leads to the tower.
On a small hill opposite the tower, there was a very large bronze bell that people paid to ring in order to bring luck to their families. There, our CUG friends recited Cui Hao’s poem for a “Follow Me” segment. Once inside the tower, we climbed five sets of steps before reaching the top. The view from here was simply amazing. I could see for miles in every single direction. Wuhan is a very large city that lies on either bank of the Yangtze River. It is quite a busy city apparent by the high volume of cars and transport ships that we saw. I learned that Wuhan is made up of three distinct towns called Wuchang, Hanyang, and Hankou. It was only in 1927 that they all merged to form the modern day city of Wuhan. After taking a lot of pictures and shooting good footage we retraced our steps and left for the next site.
Immediately outside the main gate was a memorial to the Revolution of 1911 that ended the long reign of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). In fact, Wuchang was the site of the first successful uprising that inspired the rest of the nation to fight the remnants of the old imperial order. The monument is a statue of Sun Yat-Sen, a man known as the “Founding Father of Modern China.” He is regarded as a hero by both the Nationalists and the Communists. Curiously, he was in Denver, Colorado, raising money for his cause when news broke of the uprising in a local newspaper. He immediately returned to his homeland to lead his forces. After the Qing was overthrown, he led the Republic of China until his death in 1925. The museum that documents this event is under renovation and will reopen symbolically on October 10, 2011, to commemorate the 100 th anniversary of the Wuchang Uprising.
After a late lunch we headed out to Hubei Provincial Museum to learn about the local history, in particular that of the Chu culture that was prominent in the area some 2,400 years ago. It is a vast building with three floors that displayed uncovered artifacts of the Chu. They were very skilled bronze makers and their artwork is quite elaborate and well preserved. We also had a chance to watch a fifteen-minute music show that featured replica bells that were unearthed from the Chu excavation site. I honestly wish it had been longer because the music was unlike anything I heard before. But like everything, things must come to an end, and for us that happened when a rude security guard literally kicked us out of the building five minutes before closing time. This was a bit of a shock to all of us, but it did little to dampen our spirits after a long, but enjoyable day.
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Ryan Richter '12 and Margaret Wong '14
Ryan: It is gratifying to see firsthand how much the relationship between Bryant University and CUG has grown. The day began with a dragon dance practice by CUG students, led by their instructor Professor Hu. She invited me to join her practice so that I could bring new routine moves back to Bryant University’s own team. This was very beneficial. We need the help. This is exciting for me because I hope to be one of only a select number of Bryant students that will be traveling to China in September to compete in an international competition held in Shanghai.
Professor Hu has been our team’s mentor since the founding of the Bryant University dragon dance team about two years ago. It was great to see our teacher again. We watched the CUG team practice almost flawlessly, and it made me realize how much work really needs to be done before we were ready to compete. I spent the entire morning with the team learning how to properly coordinate every motion of the dragon. I also made sure to collect some valuable footage to use as a teaching guide upon my return. Perhaps the most valuable thing I learned was what the CUG students told me, “If we expect to compete well, the entire team must work together as one.” This will be a challenge for our team—the Chinese team practices four hours a day seven days a week; we are lucky to do two in one week. Still, I am not worried at all. The students at CUG were incredibly welcoming and encouraged me in any way they could. That’s just the way they are—cooperation over competition.
After our amazement of the challenging rock climbing walls at CUG when we first visited the school gym two days ago, we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to witness professionals climb the walls today. These professionals are CUG alumni that visit the campus occasionally just to rock climb! They were extremely fast and definitely conquered gravity with their strong arms and legs. We also watched 10-year-old Qing Qing, the daughter of one of the management professors at CUG, climb the fifteen-meter wall in 20 seconds! Bakhtiyar, with safety gear, actually tried to climb the wall today. He succeeded! After he was done, he admitted the task was harder than he thought it would be. We all agreed that it is an extremely hard sport, but if you can do it, it is really fun!
JBL, dlux, Bakhtiyar, and I toughed it out and decided we were going to go to the famous Botanical Gardens in Wuhan---the sun was hot! There are more than 4000 species of flora (plant life) in the Wuhan Botanical Gardens. Right after we passed the ticket machine, we embarked on a mission. We wanted to find the special grove of Metasequoia trees, the subject of research by Bryant’s Professors Hong Yang and Qin Leng. We created a video postcard for Professor Yang. We just hope we found the right grove.
Unexpectedly, we found two treats: a butterfly house and a kiwi grove. Even though it was extremely hot, we almost forgot about the heat when we walked through the butterfly house. Butterflies were fluttering everywhere, and it was definitely a beautiful site. Our amazing photographer, JBL, took several shots of the butterflies, and she is extremely proud. (She was shocked because she apparently doesn’t usually take such great pictures.) We learned that the kiwi grove contains the largest kiwi genome bank in the world. Bakhtiyar and I learned a lot about the kiwi fruit when dlux and JBL told us the history of their name-change and their marketing tips. For those who were wondering, kiwi grow on vines like grapes
On our way out, we passed through beautiful lotus gardens. Vice-Dean Yu told us the Chinese love lotus because it grows out of muck and produces beautiful flowers. He feels that the Chinese people have a special connection with lotus flowers.
Ryan: This afternoon, JBL and dlux were invited to give lectures to students and faculty of the College of Arts and Communication. Even though it is the summer and most students are on break from school, there was a fairly large turnout. DLux’s lecture is one aimed at teaching American students a framework for understanding 5000 years of Chinese history. He impressed the CUG students and professors with his analysis. JBL focused specifically on the story of a Red Cross Club Director, Rita Pilkey, assigned to Yunnan Province during World War II. We were impressed when a student asked JBL about how she got started in Women’s History. Mostly, however, the Chinese students and faculty were shy and didn’t ask many formal questions, but, after the presentation a good many of them wanted to talk personally with dlux and JBL.
Dinner was held in one of the most upscale restaurants we have eaten in during our entire trip. The food was lavish and special. Best of all, we shared stories and opinions about our work here during the past few days. We also discussed ideas about building on our relationship. Today serves as a great example of what can be done when two universities work in unison to bring together teachers and students to share culture. I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of it all.
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Ryan Richter '12, Bakhtiyar Baidaralin '12, Margaret Wong '14
Five AM rolled around and it was time to leave our hotel in Wuhan to head for Zhuhai. As we started to cross the big bridge over the Yangtze, our van broke down and we were stuck -- with a spectacular view of the three Wuhan towns—Hanwang, Hankou, and Wuchang. After thirty minutes or so, a second transport van showed up to let us finish our trip to the airport. We managed to arrive at the terminal just in time to catch our plane to Zhuhai.
Zhuhai, often referred to as the Chinese Riviera, is absolutely stunning. Blue skies stretch over a semi-tropical landscape surrounded by hills and ocean scenery. Samuel Tu greeted us and became our personal guide for the day. Samuel first took us to the Zhuhai Jilin University campus. The main Jilin University campus is located in Jilin Province, north of Shenyang, and this satellite campus in the sunny south is only a fraction of the size. However, this campus is quite impressive and has room for 24,000 undergraduates. Students live in one of the thirty dormitories. After the tour we headed into Zhuhai city, population of two million people, for lunch.
After lunch, Samuel treated us to a tour of Zhuhai. Our first stop was the symbolic statue of the “Zhuhai Fish Woman” She is one of the key figures of the local lore. The statue itself stands in the water of the bay and visitors can approach via stone piers and walkways. We saw a good many locals there and very few foreigners, all taking pictures. Right after seeing this landmark, Samuel took us to experience something completely new and unfamiliar to us; Chinese beach culture. We arrived at a moderately crowded beach and were immediately struck by all the differences from American beach culture. We saw young boys running around naked and fully dressed women hiding under the shade of their umbrellas. The swimmers in the water were mostly men. Almost no one was tanning. This was a culture shock for all of us to a point that a short “Follow Me” segment was deemed necessary to point out these differences. According to JBL, the water, unlike Rhode Island’s cold ocean, was perfectly warm, leaving her just short of becoming a travel ambassador for the South China Sea.
We stopped briefly at a scenic spot overlooking Macao, one of China’s two Special Administrative Regions, the other being Hong Kong, to take pictures. It is made of up of three islands, all very close in proximity to Zhuhai. It is famous for hosting casinos and attracts thousands of visitors every year. Samuel told us that a lot of people from Zhuhai work in Macao, but prefer Zhuhai’s lower cost of living. Similarly, a lot of citizens of Macao do their grocery shopping in Zhuhai because it is cheaper. People have to apply for special visas to cross the borders for simple things such as shopping.
With Macao sharply embedded in our camera lenses, we finally headed out to see all the new construction that was taking place a few minutes outside of Zhuhai. Hundreds of cranes, excavating machinery, and thousands of workers, were busily clearing land for building a new commercial area and financial district. Once completed, it will rival Shanghai’s Pudong in both size and revenue generation. This project is expected to take 5-7 years and to increase significantly Zhuhai’s population and economic development. This is a very ambitious project because of its magnitude and the potential to redefine the city. Finding investment, attracting companies, organizing and designing the layout of the land, all require a lot of forward thinking and incredible expertise.
We were able to sample Guangdong and Tibetan culture through our lunch and dinner experiences today. For lunch, we had traditional Guangdong dimsum. Everything was delicious! Even though there are dimsum restaurants in Cranston and Boston, in my opinion, the dimsum in southern China tastes fresher than the dimsum in the U.S. During lunch, we also had the chance to discuss our impressions of Zhuhai and the future developments of Zhuhai with Professor Xu, the Assistant President at the Zhuhai College of Jilin University. For dinner, we had a Tibetan meal on the second floor of our Tibet-themed hotel. It was my first time having Tibetan food and it was very satisfying. We also made comparisons between American higher education and Chinese higher education with Professor Xu. We talked well after the dinner hour.
Tomorrow, we head to Hong Kong and go our separate ways. The travel section of our “Follow Me” project has come to an end. However, during the fall semester, we will be enrolled in directed studies to complete our “Follow Me” documentaries.
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Bakhtiyar: I have been extremely fortunate for being able to go on this trip. In the three weeks that we spent in China, I have seen five different cities and experienced five unique facets of Chinese culture. Each place we went to is distinctive in its own way and taught me something new about China. I can honestly say that after all that we have seen, I have more questions than answers about China. That’s not a bad thing though, because by asking questions I can learn and experience a lot more. I am truly grateful for revisiting Beijing and for being able to sample Sichuan cuisine. I really enjoyed seeing the Imperial Palace in Shenyang and meeting the wonderful people at CUG. Finally, I experienced the restful and welcoming atmosphere of Zhuhai. All along the way I made friends that I will always remember and hopefully see many more times in my life. Most importantly, I am truly lucky to be in the company of my fellow travelers, JBL, DLux, Ryan, Jason, and Margaret, who have been supportive throughout the entire trip and ensured that our education never stopped. I now have to take a moment to tip the hat to everybody who made this trip possible through hard work and dedication to academic excellence. We all have a lot of work ahead of us, but I believe I am in the company of good friends!
Bakhtiyar Baidaralin '12
Jason: Some things just never get old. One thing particularly in mind is a research trip to China-especially under the guidance of JBL and dlux. As iterated previously, I travelled to China last summer with JBL and Professor Gaytha Langlois and spent this summer in Beijing with an internship. Yet, the sixteen days I spent with the "China Team" were not days of repetition. Everyday brought new experiences, each more valuable than the previous. I am still astounded by the enormous amount of information we digested each day and the countless historic and contemporary sites we visited.
The past two-and-a-half weeks were compact, bustling, and crazy, but they exposed unique and integral parts of Chinese language, culture, and history to the "China Team." I have loved our "Follow Me" classroom enrichment project. I am even more excited to design our curriculum and continue research and publication on Chinese history. From experience, I can firmly say a research trip like this does not stop giving-such as last year's Yan'an portion and this year's Fan Jianchuan Museum Cluster. Hence, I must offer my sincere thanks to the sponsors: Hanban; Bryant University's U.S.-China institute; the College of Arts and Sciences; the Sinologist Fellows who organized and led this crazy journey, JBL and dlux; and my great peers and friends, Bakhtiyar, Margaret, and Ryan. It has been truly a pleasure being a member of the "China Team," a delight that is far from over.
Jason Fortin '12
Margaret: These last three weeks have been definitely a once in a lifetime experience that I never thought, as a freshman, I would have. I have always wanted to spread the language and culture of my heritage, and through this “Follow Me” project I will be able to educate students through our documentaries. I am interested in history, but I have never had the chance to immerse myself in it. Spending every single day with dlux and JBL, our Sinology Fellows, definitely increased my knowledge of Chinese history. JBL and dlux were definitely the best faculty members for this trip, and I appreciate them for their patience with me. I couldn’t have asked for a better team of “aspiring China scholars”: Bakhtiyar, the ice cream-loving risk taker; Ryan, the inquisitive cameraman; and Jason, the history-loving writer and policy wonk. We are now ready for the second part of our project, editing!
Margaret Wong '14
Ryan: This trip has spanned a significant amount of time and allowed me to develop a new understanding of not just the world, but also myself. Over the past three weeks, I have come to realize the following about China: The people and their culture here are something that we in the United States have come to view as another world, and rightfully so. The language looks and sounds different, the food tastes and smells different, and any native who has never seen a westerner before looks at one as if they were an alien; often insisting that you take your picture with them. We could go into great detail about all the reasons why their culture is so different from ours, but that would involve comparing a significant amount of history, which only strays away from the point.
Many of the people I have met here are incredibly eager to learn about American culture and the English language. These are things that are slowly imbedding themselves into the urban areas across the country. Many of the places we have been to show this clearly. Billboards showing western brand names, KFC, McDonalds, multilingual toiletry signs, and so many more examples have been seen in every city we have visited. Even though many of the Chinese to English translations seem rather quirky and not every toilet/squat-pot comes equipped with toilet paper, the country is still making a huge effort to accommodate people like us who come to visit, or even work here. This is something that we in the United States can really learn from China. The hospitality of every single one of our hosts here has been beyond anything I could have expected, yet I doubt that I could expect the same from everyone back home. Too often I think we are trapped in a bubble. Some people may call this being thick headed or arrogant, but in reality it’s the sort of lifestyle our culture and environment creates. Traveling with this amazing group of people has opened my eyes to the way I too have been caught in this bubble. By providing more opportunities for cultural exchange between the United States and China (especially for young people), I truly believe that we can better understand not only one another, but also ourselves.
Ryan Richter '12
JBL: This three-week research and study trip to China has been inspiring, productive, and, at times, exhausting. Without question, our team of students, Bakhtiyar, Jason, Margaret, and Ryan, have truly earned the title, "China Scholars." Their newly-acquired knowledge of Chinese history, culture, and language, as reflected in their meticulously produced blogs and their painstakingly filmed "Follow Me" segments, is nothing less than astounding. Our days typically consisted of twelve hours of traveling to historical and cultural sites and filming “Follow Me” segments. Our evenings included three to four hours of blogging, backing up film segments and still photos, and assessing the day’s activities. This was an ambitious and demanding undertaking. Bakhtiyar, Jason, Margaret, and Ryan unfailingly and graciously kept to this challenging schedule. We could not have asked for a more cooperative and collaborative team. We know that much more work is ahead of us as we develop and produce a series of video segments based on our new discoveries. But, we are confident that our finished product will be enthusiastically embraced by Chinese language and culture classrooms in southern New England.
On a personal note, this was my fifth trip to China over the past eleven years. The mystery and wonder of this country continue to intrigue me. Old and new China, country and city, communism and capitalism, grandeur and poverty, grandparents and grandchildren, tradition and modernization - all embossed in the China landscape - are illusive impressions that I probably will never completely understand. I will forever cherish the travel and research opportunity to delve into China’s complicated past and present – especially with the 2011 China Team!
Professor Judy Barrett Litoff
dlux: Our "Follow Me" project has grown into something quite remarkable. We've worked hard over the past three weeks, and we really appreciate the comments and encouragement we've heard from so many of you who have been following this blog. We also appreciate the suggestions we've heard for improvements ("More pictures!") and the proofreading. The responses we're hearing have been keeping us going! Most days we've been out and and started on the day's activities before 8 a.m. To meet our twelve-hour time difference schedule for the daily blog, we've rarely wrapped up our working day before 10:30 or eleven. That said, I want to use my slot in this "Day Twenty-one" entry to let you know just how much of themselves our four students -- Bakhtiyar, Jason, Margaret, and Ryan -- have put into this project. They started the work back on the Bryant campus in the weeks before we left. JBL and I haven't always shown our softer sides as we chided them about split infinitives, thesis statements, and fact checking. Still, they get up everyday ready to go after it again. Besides blogging, they have developed storyboards for our video work. They've traveled long hours, and carried their daily notebooks faithfully. We’ve all learned a great deal. We've laughed and made so many new friends. Every day, these students have been ready for more!
Dean David S. Lux
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