Monday, June 04, 2007

Day 16 - Fudan University and Other Lectures

Today was a whirlwind day of meetings and lectures. It began at Fudan University with a briefing by the Director of the Center for American Studies. He gave us an introduction to security issues in China. What I found most interesting was the conversation that ensued about the emergence of "Chinese-style" socialism and why for all intents and purposes, China is a socialist country, not a communist one.

From here we met with the Director of the Office of Foreign Affairs at Fudan and the Director for Student Exchange Programs. One of the goals of this trip is not only to help faculty think about China in ways that can expand their teaching and research, but also to cultivate relationships with institutions where we might be able to develop partner relationships for study abroad opportunities. Learning about these institutions has been fascinating, but few of them offer enough courses in English for them to be good destinations for our students. However, for those interested in language study, we have seen some programs that would make outstanding choices for them.

After lunch we met with faculty from Fudan in our respective disciplines. Since several of us had no peers to meet with, we took a quick walking tour of campus in the rain. When we returned, we had the opportunity to meet with undergraduate students for informal conversations. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me. Miriam and I spent close to an hour speaking with a group of young men who were not reluctant to share their views and ideas on a variety of subjects, including, but not limited to, the war in Iraq, the state of socialism/communism in China, personal freedoms, travel and more. I was very surprised by the extent of coverage the VA Tech tragedy had in China, and was shocked to realize that the students felt that America was not a safe place because of this.

After our day at Fudan we spent some time at the Institute for International Studies, where the Director shared with us his thoughts on the current state of US-China relations. After this we had time for a brief question and answer session.

Our evening ended with dinner at a fabulous restaurant on the Bund. Afterwards, we walked along the Bund and took in the sights. It was another great day.

1 comment:

  1. I have often heard that from Chinese students as well. Even the ones studying here see America as unsafe because of the level of violence. I am afraid we become accustomed to it and dulled by media messages. It opens one's mind to see it from another perspective, doesn't it?