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The McDermott Scholars Award covers all expenses of a superb four-year academic education at The University of Texas at Dallas, in concert with a diverse array of intensive extracurricular experiences, including internships, travel, and cultural enrichment.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Lovin' China #2

The program took us on a day-trip of Suzhou, only 2 hours away from

Shanghai by bus. We tasted a bit of history with a boat tour of the

Grand Canal, and saw the xiaoqiaoliushui (quaint houses and scenic

views) depicted by famous paintings and newspaper articles we’ve read

in Chinese class. We strolled through the Suzhou Museum, a design of

I.M. Pei, and from there walked to the Humble Administrator’s Garden.

What I loved more than anything else was the visit to a silk factory

(it’s a little nerdy, I know, but you’re talking to the person who went

to Japan to see the Toyota plant and was awed by the efficiency of

conveyor sushi restaurants). The factory conducted a tour showing us

first the silk worms on their mulberry leaves, then their silk cocoons,

followed by the boiling process and finally the method by which

machines, with the aid of workers, plaited 8 silk stands to make silk

thread. Reflecting on the trip later, I was amazed that we are still

able to drift on a canal that has been functional for over a millennium

and witness the silk production, a process that has been continuously

refined since the BC’s.

Lovin' China #1

East China Normal University is absolutely gorgeous! There are two small creeks, inundated with lotus flowers in full blossom, that across campus with trees and benches lining both banks. Students often climb the low bush trees to pick waxberries that are just beginning to ripen.

There’s something about the university that is identifiably Chinese, that is, aside from the 20 feet statue of Chairman Mao keeping watch at the center of campus. It could be the stone bridges and stone tables, or the badminton players and the elderly practicing Taichi. The back gate comes alive at night. Both sides of the street is filled up with food vendors selling fried noodles, Chinese style BBQ and crawfish along with xiaotans (excuse the Chinglish) of sunglasses, hats and clothes. On weekends, the park that is close by also fills up with children flying kites, Chinese opera singers accompanied by erhu players and students attending all sorts of dance classes. Amidst the business and international atmosphere that stereotypes Shanghai, there is in fact, still many aspects of traditional culture that can be found.