Students immerse themselves in Chinese culture


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Facing 2,000-year-old men of clay in an unfamiliar city, students immersed themselves in the ancient culture of China.

The Terracotta Army of Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang was just one of the sites that Shippensburg University students visited during their 20-day field study of China this summer. Professors Jennifer Pomeroy and George Pomeroy of the geography-earth science department and Amy Diehl, director of systems and applications, led the group of 14 students through their cultural experience. SU teamed up with East China Normal University in Shanghai, to travel to Xi’an city to see the 8,000 terracotta soldiers.

“I could not wait to get in to see this amazing discovery,” junior Vincent Rink wrote in the group’s blog in June. “We found out that there are still hundreds upon thousands [of soldiers] that have not been unearthed,” Rink said.

Between the history lessons and tours, students and faculty were able to experience the culture of modern Chinese society. They ate authentic meals, got stuck in Shanghai traffic, and bartered at the market for souvenirs. One of the most picturesque places on the summer visit was the town of Zhouzhuang, where waterways take the place of streets.

“For me this was a piece of heaven on earth,” Rink said in his blog.

Students took a boat trip down the canal and later watched a Peking opera show. The cultural phenomena did not stop there. Painting, Tai Chi, calligraphy, Chinese language lessons and a visit to the Shanghai Museum were all a part of the students’ experience.

They visited Tiananmen Square in Beijing, where the Tiananmen Square Massacre occurred just 25 years ago. This summer, SU students stood in the shadow of Mao Zedong’s giant portrait and remembered the history of the city.

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Photo by Amy Diehl / The Slate
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Photo by Amy Diehl / The Slate
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Photo by Amy Diehl / The Slate

After going through a security check point, the tour group was able to visit Mao Zedong’s mausoleum and get a glimpse of the chairman’s crystal-encased coffin. Outside of Beijing lies the Forbidden City. Its high walls and moat housed 24 emperors over a period of 505 years.

SU students and faculty toured the Forbidden City and learned about its history. After leaving the smog of the city behind, the tour group got some fresh air while exploring the 720 acres of the Summer Palace in Beijing. The group also had the opportunity to visit the No. 25 High School in Shijiazhuang, a sister school to the Chambersburg Area School District. Twelve teachers from the Chambersburg district accompanied the SU students on their trip and were able to meet the students and teachers at the No. 25 High School.

Before returning to Pennsylvania, SU students and faculty scaled the 1,000 steps of the Great Wall of China in Mutianya. The forest surrounding the Great Wall was reminiscent of south central Pa., Diehl said in her blog.


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