Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Study in Beijing

From the CIEE Study Center at Central University for Nationalities in Beijing:

"We have concluded another successful semester. We hosted students from a diverse background of universities and majors, bringing an exciting mix of intellectual interests and cultural perspectives to the program. I was very pleased to see their scholastic and cross-cultural competence grow, and am pleased to send you an update on the program.

"Courses included many experiential activities as an important and unique component of the Chinese Language and Ethnic Studies program. In addition to Chinese language courses, students took three area studies courses; The Sacred in China, The Chinese Identity and Ethnic Diversity in China, and Social and Cultural Transformations in Contemporary China. Many classes were taught outside of the classroom utilizing different locations of importance within Beijing. Professor Chen Xia, from the Chinese Academy of the Social Sciences presented a lecture at the Temple of Heaven, directly connecting cultural concepts to the temple’s architecture for The Sacred in China class. In The Chinese Identity and Ethnic Diversity in China class, we visited Beijing’s Nationality Park, a park featuring ethnic restaurants and museums, allowing students to observe how different ethnic minority cultures are represented and commercialized in the public identity of China.

"The CIEE Study Center hosted guest speakers from the University’s Colleges of Ethnology and Sociology, Tibetan Studies, and Ethno-Musicology. Among them, students particularly enjoyed engaging in discussions with Professors Litip Tohiti (Uyghur Studies), Tsering Thar (Tibetan Bon religion), and Yang Shengming (Muslim Studies). Also, North American anthropologists Dru Gladney (a Chinese Muslim Studies specialist), and Charlene Makley (a Tibetologist), visited our program. Professor Maklay shared with us the news of her recent publication The Violence of Liberation: Gender and Tibetan Buddhist Revival in Post-Mao China, which I have selected as a textbook for the spring semester.

"With six years of personal academic background in the Tibetan regions of Qinghai and Gansu Provinces, I created the cultural mid-semester trip to be an integral part of the program’s academic work. Students stayed in homestays with Tibetan families and participated in local cultural activities while also conducting our own environmental and community-building projects, such as helping Tibetans clear the Qinghai Lake beach, the largest salt water lake in Tibet, of non-biodegradable trash left by tourists.

"Going forward, visual anthropology will be incorporated into classes even more, as we’ve discovered students are interested in working with images, documentaries, film, and art. Students will be exposed to both national and private visual productions on ethnic identity and have the opportunity to create their own visual projects. At Central University of Nationalities, we now have a gallery where CIEE students can display their visual anthropology artwork such as Chinese calligraphy and field photos. Our goal is to create as many platforms as possible for students to maximize their cultural immersion experience.

"If you have any questions about the program, please don’t hesitate to contact myself or Dan Olds. If you would like to order additional program catalogs please contact the CIEE office at 1.800.40.STUDY or studyinfo@ciee.org.

Yours sincerely,

Dan Smyer Yu, Ph.D.
Resident Director
Chinese Language and Ethnic Studies
Beijing, China

Daniel Olds
Program Director
Asia Pacific
Portland, Maine

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