West Meets East

Equipped with passports, a smattering of Chinese, and a great sense of adventure, on May 20, seven UNH students set out for Chengdu University in Sichuan Province, China, for a three-week summer study program. Led by UNH Confucius Institute co-directors Yuexing Xu and Yige Wang, the trip offered an intensive classroom experience—and plenty of trips outside of Chengdu to sites like Beijing's Great Wall and Forbidden Palace and Xian's terra cotta warrior museum.

The summer program, offered for the first time in 2011, is the most recent development in the University of New Hampshire's Confucius Institute partnership with Chengdu. In spring 2013, both UNH and Chengdu will offer full-semester exchange programs for students wishing to study at their university's "sister school." By 2014, the partnership is expected to include a UNH-managed program at Chengdu.

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The recent trip provided students with some remarkable experiences—like a visit to the Sichuan Province Giant Panda sanctuary, home to more than 80 percent of the world's wild giant panda population. Pictured from left are Dylan Arky '13, Abigail Ferguson '15, Rebecca Ziman '14, Michael Laverriere '13, Joseph Cenney '13, Saxon Dewitt '14, Andrew Cardello '13, Beth Kilinc (education coordinator for UNH Center for International Education).

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Beth Kilinc out and about in Luodai Ancient Town, on the eastern border of modern Chengdu. A far cry from the quiet streets of Durham, Chengdu is a city of 14 million people and hums with activity 24 hours a day.

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Tastes like chicken? In Luodai Ancient Town, food vendors' fare includes deep-fried scorpion on a stick. Saxon Dewitt '14 gives the delicacy a try.

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In the classroom, Joseph Cenney ’13 and Andrew Cardello ‘13 receive instruction in calligraphy from a Chengdu professor. Using a traditional weasel-hair brush, students learn to draw characters properly, from left to right and top to bottom.

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Another ancient art the students learned was paper cutting. Originally a form of entertainment for the Chinese nobility, the cutting of symmetrical designs with scissors and knives is especially popular during holidays.

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As part of the University's Confucius Institute partnership with Chengdu, the May 20-June 10 trip included a meeting with senior Chengdu administrators to share information about UNH. A slideshow includes an image of UNH's most iconic building, Thompson Hall.

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The 21-day program included five days of travel to important cultural destinations in Xian, Beijng, and Shanghai, but the participants found plenty of beauty to capture inside Sichuan Province, as well.

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Chengdu boasts the world's oldest known irrigation project in the world, the Dujiangyan Irrigation System. At the Dujiangyan aqueduct, Rebecca Ziman '14 and Abi Ferguson '15 give their thumbs-up.

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The language program included two class periods per day. Morning conversation classes were followed in the afternoon by one-on-one tutoring sessions that helped expand students' growing knowledge of Chinese.

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It wasn’t all fried scorpions. Students and lead instructor Yige Wang (at left) worked a trip to a local Pizza Hut into their Chengdu itinerary shortly before their return to the U.S. on June 10.  The Chengdu Pizza Hut menu includes shrimp fried rice, beef soup, and stir-fried noodles in addition to pizza. Wang laments, “If only we could have such a Pizza Hut in Durham!”

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Says Rebecca Ziman ’14 (right), “This was an unforgettable trip! We were able to see some amazing sites and I am very grateful for the opportunities that Chengdu University provided for our group.”

Want to see more photos of the 2012 summer study program at Chengdu University? Check the UNH Confucius Institute web site at http://www.unh.edu/confucius/index.cfm for additional photos, coming soon.

Slideshow by Kristin Duisberg, Editorial and Creative Services, and 2012 Chengdu University summer study abroad program participants.