Exploring China 2011 (Click here to display the trip's photos!)
This March, 2011, the Ohlone College Chinese Department hosted another Chinese Cultural Trip, successfully conveying-in a way impossible to do in a classroom-a sense of Chinese culture, tradition, and geography to more than thirty Ohlone students and faculty. We left San Francisco Airport on the morning of March 17 and arrived in Beijing, China's capital, on the afternoon of March 18. At night we visited the Wang-Fu-Jing Night Market. In the next few days, we toured important historical and cultural monuments including Tian-An-Men Square, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Olympic Bird Nest and Water Cube, and-of course-the Great Wall. Most of our group members were visiting China for the first time, and that first hike on the Great Wall of China was especially exciting. On the last day in Beijing, the tour group went together to shop at the Silk Market, which boasted a plethora of merchandise, from sewing needles to leather luggage. Our members used this chance to practice their Chinese in this most fundamental of business transactions.
After exploring the old metropolis of Beijing, we flew to the Mountain City, Chongqing, which was briefly China's capital in World War II. Afterwards, we embarked on a Yangtze River cruise for four days and four nights. On the ship, Ohlone College Chinese students took the opportunity to have conversations with cruise members to exercise their Chinese skills, as well as partake in the numerous Chinese cultural activities on board.
On March 25, we flew to Guilin to view the amazing scenery, which has been a subject of centuries of Chinese poetry. Only when we rode a boat down the LiJiang River did we feel as numerous poets have, that the "natural scenes of Guilin are beyond paradise". The small boat floating on the mirror-like lake with cloud-touched mountains towering around us seemed to be a scene that had emerged from a Chinese watercolor painting.
These thirteen days of cultural and linguistic enrichment and excitement drew to an end with our visit to the great metropolis of economic prosperity, Hong Kong. Throughout our stay in Hong Kong, we felt keenly the fast footsteps of China's economic advancement.
This trip to China helped our students in the Ohlone College Chinese Department greatly improve their Chinese speaking skills and knowledge of Chinese culture and history. This 13-day trip is an experience that none of us will forget.
A group comprised of Ohlone college students currently taking Chinese classes, college faculty and staff members, college management and foundation personnel, and their affiliates successfully completed an "Exploring China" trip from March 26 to April 4, 2010.
It afforded its thirty-four (34) participants a rare opportunity to see the 'many faces' of China in a short span. The journey began in Shanghai, the largest industrial city in China; stopped in Suzhou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dotted with pagodas or gardens at almost every turn; Wuzhen, the "Venice of the East;" Hangzhou, Marco Polo's "finest and noblest in the world;" Xi'an, a city with a history of 3,100 years and the capital of some of the most important dynasties in Chinese history; and ended in Beijing, China's present capital, one of those modern, thriving cities that can boast a fantastic cultural heritage. By means of various modes of travel, from train, plane, boat, to rickshaw and bus, trip participants visited an array of cultural, historical, modern, economic and scenic sites. In all, students and participants were immersed in the civilization, heritages, customs, social practices, modernity and globalization of China.
All participants marveled at the caliber of experience that this trip has offered, which cannot be duplicated in class. Students and participants came back with a better understanding of the historical, cultural, geographic, linguistic, artistic, social, etc. features of China, and this in turn will broaden their global perspective so as to facilitate appreciation of the global responsibilities of individuals, communities and countries.
The academic and language benefits that our students and participants have received as a result of this journey to China demonstrate the need for establishing it as a compulsory component of the Chinese language and culture curriculum. The experience gained from this trip confirms our belief that a China-field-study-tour is needed to supplement and support the Chinese language curriculum.
Read what our participants have said:
"This last March, a hodgepodge group of Ohlone professors, counselors, and students gathered at San Francisco International Airport, abuzz with enthusiasm for what each and every one undoubtedly hoped would be the trip of a lifetime. The much anticipated ten-day excursion to China proved to be exactly that and more, an enterprise of rich cultural immersion. "
_____ Rachael Allen, Lydia Bringhurst, Ruben Mariscal, Tya Chiang
"Was really fun getting acquainted in China and loved the trip! The spots chosen were very interesting, scenic and historic. I love seeing with my own eyes the places I have read about and seen in pictures! The terra-cotta warriors and the great wall were two of those places! I think the trip was well planned and we packed in as much as possible without it being too stressful! Even the shopping was awesome!! China is a beautiful country!!"
"I had a fabulous time on the trip and have fantastic memories!"
_____ Diane Berkland
"My experience in China has changed me for the better. It opened me up to a renewed sense that this world really is worth exploring throughout. It isn't the same as watching some documentary on the Discovery channel. That also goes to say the experience of being there isn't anything like what you hear about on the Travel channel, even if watching these shows triggered your conviction to visit a place far away from your TV in the first place. No, you will get much more than you expected once you actually go there and see for yourself. All in all, the trip was a total blast. Something I did that I would never forget. It could not have been a better first-time experience in another country. I felt like a tried and true tourist of China, and now all that's left is to go back and do it all again. Happy travels!"
_____ Kyle Greenwell
"Before traveling to China, I didn't really prepare for the trip by looking up information on the places we were going to visit. Rather than forming any opinions before I arrived, I wanted to take in as much information as I could while there and then later I could look up information. I wanted to go with a clear mind. Thus, I wasn't very familiar with the history of China and its art, or familiar with the culture. My limited knowledge came from movies I had seen and brief history lessons as a child in elementary school.
Throughout the trip, I was constantly comparing China and the U.S. I thought a lot in terms of energy use and the health of people. I didn't really think about the differences in history, art, and culture as much though. I was mostly interested in seeing how people live today and how they used to live before. I was interested to see how much China has adopted from the U.S. for its identity and how much it has kept as its own."
_____ Gabriel Maza
"I could have stayed a few more days in China, I could have learned more Mandarin, I could have done more shopping, I could have enjoyed more casual encounters with the Chinese people and I could have seen more sights, yet, I know I have had a marvelous and enlightening experience in China. ?"
_____ Harry Avila
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