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Students on field study in China

A group of 14 students is taking part in the Field Studies in China course taught by Dr. Jennifer Pomeroy and Dr. George Pomeroy of the geography/earth science department.

They arrived at East China Normal University (ECNU) in Shanghai on June 12. During their 20-day stay, they will take part in Chinese language and culture classes and participate in sightseeing excursions in various Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Hangzhou, Xian, and Beijing. Twelve Chambersburg Area School District teachers are on the trip and the group will also visit Shijiazhuang No. 25 High School, a CASD sister-school. 

Dr. Amy Diehl, the university’s director of systems and applications, and Vincent Rink, a junior Spanish major, will provide blog updates about the trip.


Posted June 25

Written by Dr. Amy Diehl

After leaving Shanghai, we headed for the city of Xi’an. We entered the city through gates in the city wall, which is six miles in circumference. Xi’an is an ancient capital of China and the city wall is one of the oldest and best preserved in China. Construction began in 194 BCE and lasted for four years. We climbed the steps to the wall and then took a two-mile stroll on the top of it. The view of the city from the top of the wall was amazing.

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Ship students climb steps to the Xi’an city wall

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Top of Xi’an city wall

In Xi’an we visited the site of the Terracotta Army, a collection of life-size terracotta sculptures including 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses. These sculptures were discovered by chance in the ground by a farmer digging a well in 1974. They were buried in 210-209 BCE with Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, to protect the emperor in his afterlife.

The number, size and detail on this sculptures was amazing — no two soldier’s faces are alike. Excavation on the terracotta army still continues today. When the sculptures are dug up, they have vibrant color. However, exposure to air quickly turns the colors to brown. In order to preserve the color, archaeologists are leaving many sculptures buried until better preservation methods are found.

We saw the hill under which Qin Shi Huang is buried. However, his tomb has not been excavated because it is considered too dangerous to do so. It is believed that the tomb took 38 years to construct with a workforce of 700,000 people. It is said that those workers were buried alive in the tomb in order to protect the secrets of the tomb and the Terracotta army.

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Terracotta army soldiers in Xi’an

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Dr. Amy Diehl, Dr. George Pomeroy, Dr. Jennifer Pomeroy, and Vincent Rink with Terracotta army soldiers

Written by Vincent Rink

One reason I wanted to come to China was to see Emperor Qin's Terra Cotta Army. Upon arrival I was the most excited out of the group. I could not wait to get in to see this amazing discovery. Once at the gate we walked for 15 minutes to a site with three massive buildings. To my surprise they all contained pits of ancient warriors. We entered the building housing Pit One to find the most famous view of the soldiers. The pits were filled with rows of the ancient fighters.

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Terracotta soldiers in Pit One

When we walked around the army, our tour guide showed us a large piece of land that had not been excavated yet. We found out that there are still hundreds upon thousands that have not been unearthed. We were also taught that almost all the soldiers had been broken from the weight of the ground above them. 

Many archeologist have been working for decades to piece back these clay marvels. Entering the building housing Pit Two we discovered the horses and higher ranking warriors. Again there was so much more to be excavated which means the vastness of the army is still growing.

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Soldiers and horses in Pit Two 

Something that surprised me was that each statue was once painted vibrantly, but due to oxidation they lose their color within a week of being unearthed. In the building housing Pit Three, we were shown some of the only intact statues including the kneeling archer which was the only warrior to not have a single chip in him.

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Intact kneeling terracotta archer

By luck, archaeologists also discovered the highest-ranking general who was given orders only by the emperor himself.

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Highest ranking terracotta general

Once we visited all three buildings we were taken to a museum to meet the farmer who discovered the vast treasure. (Yes, he is still alive at the age of 72.) He was digging a well and found a head of a soldier. It was simply amazing.


Posted June 24

Written by Dr. Amy Diehl

On our last night in Shanghai, our hosts treated us to a banquet at East China Normal University (ECNU). In attendance from ECNU were Director Huang Meixu, Deputy Director Wang Gang and Claire Zhang from the Foreign Student Exchange Office of ECNU’s Global Education Center.

We were served delicious foods, including American-style green salad with Thousand Island dressing, glazed dates, black mushroom with toro salad, cold marinated pork, tofu skin salad, dumplings, Szechuan tofu, and orange juice. My favorite were the glazed dates, which were very sweet.

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Catherine Foreman, Dr. Amy Diehl and Vincent Rink attend ECNU banquet

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Jodi Boardman, Claire Zhang (ECNU), Diana Stumbaugh, Alicia Lippert, and Eden Eliff attend ECNU banquet

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Deputy Director Wang Gang (ECNU) and Dr. Jennifer Pomeroy

Dr. George Pomeroy presented our hosts with Shippensburg University T-shirts and coffee mugs.

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Dr. George Pomeroy presents Deputy Director Wang Gang (ECNU) with a Ship T-shirt

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Director Huang Meixu presents Dr. George Pomeroy with a traditional Chinese teapot

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Claire Zhang (ECNU) and her new Ship t-shirt

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Ship and ECNU – the entire group

A big thank you (xiè-xie) goes to ECNU staff for making our trip possible and taking care of our every need during our stay. Director Huang and Deputy Director Wang worked with Dr. Jennifer Pomeroy and Dr. George Pomeroy to make the trip possible, while Claire spent almost the entire week with us, as our group’s escort and guide. We could not ask for better hosts.


Posted June 23

Written by Dr. Amy Diehl

In addition to our cultural excursions, we have had a fun time shopping in many local markets. Negotiating prices is expected in China. Often there are no prices marked on the items, and the vendors usually do not speak much English. However, they always have a calculator that can be used by both parties to negotiate the price. When we find items we like, we ask “how much?” The vendor responds and then we counter back with a lower price. 

This goes back and forth until an agreeable price is determined. Our ECNU host Claire told us that we should be paying about 30 percent of the asking price. We have not always been able to negotiate down that low, but we have been able to get significant savings off of the original asking price. We have learned that to be a successful bargainer, one must be willing to walk away. Several times, I have made a low counter offer, to which the vendor said no. I then said no-thanks and walked away, only to have the vendor come after me and say “ok, ok, ok!” to my offer. This doesn’t always work. 

There have been occasions when I gave a low-ball offer, to which vendor said no, and then I walked away and expected the vendor to come after me and they have not. This type of trial and error with negotiating helps me to determine what the market prices truly are. We’ve all made lots of purchases and will be bringing back lots of souvenirs for ourselves, family and friends.

 

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Amy negotiating for a table runner in Shanghai

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Vince negotiating in Shanghai

Written by Vincent Rink

All together I have been to five Chinese market places and each were an experience. So many things to see and buy, some were expected and others were not. Today we went to a bird, fish, and insect market. This experience was like no other for me.

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Ducklings in a box in the bird, fish and insect market

Crickets are used for an Asian fighting cricket game in which individuals take bets over which one will win.

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Crickets for sale at the bird, fish and insect market.

In China, turtles symbolize longevity.  Often they are given as gifts to older people.

        

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Turtles for sale at the bird, fish, and insect market. 

My favorite place to shop was outside of Yuyuan Gardens where we saw the residence of a few nobles of China’s past. The gardens were very extensive, spanning for what seemed like a mile. China has preserved and restored their past so well that you almost step into the past when entering places such as this. Each home had a beautiful complexity to it but at the same time was very simple in style. Each item in the rooms was placed in a specific way that held a meaning in various manners. If I could go back in time I think I would live here.

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Vince in Yuyuan Gardens

 

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Residence at Yuyuan Gardens

 

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Bridge in Yuyuan Gardens

 

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Interior of residence at Yuyuan Gardens with Concubine bed on the right

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One of five dragon walls at Yuyuan Gardens


Written by Dr. Amy Diehl

We have spent quite a bit of time in Shanghai traffic on our shuttle bus to and from excursions. The congestion in Shanghai is similar that of Los Angeles. Stop and go traffic on the many multilane highways.

There is one difference. In Shanghai, individuals must pay 72,000 RMB (approx. $12,000) for a license plate, and the process to purchase the plate takes about two months. The cost for license plates in other cities is less about 3,000 RMB to 5,000 RMB ($500 to $800). However, those who purchase license plates from other cities may not enter Shanghai during rush hour (7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.). Congestion exists despite high costs to drive.

The vehicles here are comparable to American vehicles in size and kind. There are lots of makes such as Volkwagen, Audi, Ford, Buick, Mercedes, Volvo, Kia, Nissan, Toyota, BMW, Honda — both sedans and small SUVs. Having a high-end or luxury vehicle is a status symbol here.

The Chinese use different culture-based driving rules than America. For example, it is not considered rude to use the horn frequently. It is used routinely to signal to other drivers to get out of the way. In addition, cars, bikes, mopeds and pedestrians are often walking in a seemingly chaotic pattern down the same streets. There are crosswalks but people often jaywalk. There are clear lane dividers, but drivers often disregard them.

In the city, vehicles make use of all available road space, regardless of how the lanes are marked. Watching from the shuttle bus has been scary at times as there are often near-misses. However, none of the Chinese drivers, bicyclists or pedestrians seem to be nervous about it. There isn’t a lot of slamming of the brakes. The Chinese know how to flow harmoniously in what appears to be a chaotic driving pattern.

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Shanghai rush hour

Chinese food in Shanghai is also a bit different. Much of China’s food must be imported. There is lots of pork, red meat, fish, seafood, some chicken, eggs, noodles, rice, greens and root vegetables, dumplings, bread, and watermelon. There has been almost no dairy, and Chinese do not typically eat cheese. Crab ragoon is not a dish that can be found here.

We are served warm, unsweetened soy milk for breakfast, instead of regular milk. Chinese restaurants serve family-style with a lazy Susan to pass the dishes. This is one example of the collective nature of the society here. We are given a small plate or bowl, a spoon, a small cup, and of course chopsticks, and then we spin the dishes from person to person.

Using the chopsticks can be challenging, especially with foods that are slippery. It is also considered rude to stab food with any utensil. So we are becoming proficient at moving the food from the shared dishes to our plates and then from our plates to our mouths with chopsticks.

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Students and Dr. George Pomeroy at dinner

Chicken, fish, and shrimp are served with the head of the animal still intact.

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Chicken

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Fish

We visited the Tea Museum in the town of Hangzhou to learn about the history of tea. China is the origin of the tea tree and the first country to discover and use tea. Tea has been used as medicine, food and beverage.

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Tea trees in Hangzhou

We were able to use test the arduous manual method of drying the tea leaves through a twisting process.

 

ad6Dr. George Pomeroy and Shannon Pitt using the four bucket tea dryer

After the Tea Museum, we had the chance to sample traditional Chinese green tea. Tea making is a very precise process that has taken years to perfect. The quantity of tea leaves to use varies depending on the type of tea. We sampled the delicious green tea.

We learned not to use boiling water for tea, as it ruins the healthful properties of the tea leaves. Instead, one should allow the boiling water to cool for 2-3 minutes first before adding it to the tea leaves. The hot water is added to the cup of tea leaves three separate times, instead of all at once. Chinese do not typically add sweeteners to their tea. We found the tea had a nice mild taste. It didn’t need sugar to enhance the flavor.

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Dr. Amy Diehl and Shannon Pitt sampling green tea



Written by Vincent Rink

Over the past few days we have visited some of China's many temples and natural wonders. Zhouzhuang was a dream come true.

My dreams of China were changed when arriving in Shanghai because it is in many ways similar to my home town of Philadelphia, except on an unimaginable scale. When arriving in Zhouzhuang my faith was restored. It is a small, but beautiful town with water ways cruising through like an oriental Venice.

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A Chinese water town: Zhouzhang

In Zhouzhang, we watched a Peking opera show and saw the land of Shen that was a perfect representation of China's past.

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Peking opera in Zhouzhang

That day we also took a peaceful cruise down the canal on a man-boat or better yet woman rowed boat. It was a very soothing moment as we were floating down the canal with the wonderful song of our conductor serenading us. For me this was a piece of heaven on earth.

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Zhouzhang residence



Written by Dr. Amy Diehl

June 15, 2014: Our day started in painting class. Much like calligraphy many individuals, including myself, were apprehensive about being able to paint. Art class was never my favorite. However, after a brief lesson and some practice I discovered that I have more painting ability than I knew. We used a single color – black Chinese ink. We mixed it with water so that we could use various shades of gray. We used a special paper – xuan paper – made from the green stalks of the rice plant. Using the xuan paper and Chinese ink, it is possible to make strokes varying from dark to light and from solid to hollow using the single color. With our new skills, we were able to create crabs, fish, flowers, frogs and squirrels.

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Vince practices painting

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Amy practices painting

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Students with our works of art -- crabs, frogs, fish, squirrels, and flowers

After lunch, students had the chance to participate in T’ai Chi. T’ai Chi translates as “supreme ultimate fist” and “chi” means “life energy.” The ultimate goal is to reach a balanced state of power, energy and spirit with a fully exercised meridian system. In traditional Chinese medicine belief, the meridian system is the internal system in the human body through which life-energy flows.

The techniques of T’ai Chi involve the use of leverage through the joints based on coordination and relaxation, rather than muscular tension. It is a slow, repetitive process to learn to generate this leverage. We learned about Yang style T’ai Chi. The class started with warm up exercises. Then we paired with another student to do arm and shoulder exercises and to massage each other’s fingers. Finally, we learned three of 78 T’ai Chi moves.  

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Vince performs finger massage with our instructor

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The class practices a T’ai Chi move.

After T’ai Chi, the class visited Shanghai’s Yuyuan Gardens, which translates as “Garden of Happiness.” It was conceived in 1559 and completed in 1577 during the reign of Ming Emperor Jiajing as the private garden of Pan Yunduan, the governor of the Sichuan province. It is quite large – about five acres in size.

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Ship students, who are also all Ship alums, and Dr. Jennifer Pomeroy at Yuyuan Gardens in Shanghai

There are five dragon stonewalls in the garden. In Chinese culture, the dragons indicated a royal status. They were constructed to protect residents from evil spirits. The dragon is a water warrior. Having the dragon on the top of the walls protected the property from catching fire.

After the visit to Yuyuan Gardens, we went shopping in a local marketplace. Students were able to practice their negotiation skills to make purchases, resulting in great discounts from the original asking prices. It was a long, full, and fun day.

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Amy with one of the five dragons at Yuyuan Gardens





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Dr. Jennifer Pomeroy, Vincent Rink, and Dr. Amy Diehl on the Bund waterfront (Huangpu River) in Shanghai, China

Amy’s Perspective

On our first day at ECNU, we had an orientation session, a campus tour provided by several ECNU students, followed by lunch. In the picture below, you see the ECNU’s giant statue of Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China, which he governed from 1949 until his death in 1976.

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Ship and ECNU students in front of ECNU’s Mao Zedung statue

 

Dr. Jennifer Pomeroy provided the group with our first Chinese language lesson, in which we learned to count from 1 to 10 in Chinese.

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Dr. Jennifer Pomeroy instructing the student travelers

 

During our second day at ECNU, we learned about the ancient Chinese art of calligraphy. It involves learning to properly control the brush with fingers, wrist and elbow. We worked on the Chinese symbol for power and some students wrote their names in Chinese symbols using our newly acquired skills. We learned that is it important that the characters be concise, legible, written correctly and, most important — balanced. We were all surprised by how quickly we picked up the basics of this new skill!

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Dr. Amy Diehl and Eden Eliff practice calligraphy

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The class with our beautiful finished work!

As a fun side note, one thing we noticed when we were taking group shots with our Shippensburg University banner is that Chinese tourists were also taking our picture. It’s always good to spread the Shippensburg University name!

Vince’s Perspective

Friday, June 14, 201

Today was an amazing experience! This was my first true day in a foreign country and I was more than excited. Beginning the day I tried breakfast foods that seemed very strange to me. It was fun to watch the others faces as they tried eating food with suspicion than come to really enjoy what they were eating.

Our class began at 8:30 a.m. and was very enjoyable. We learned numbers 1 to 10 and how to count with only one hand. I learned this previously in Dr. Jennifer Pomeroy’s class so she asked all of her Chinese language students (including me) to help students learn the numbers. It was a lot of fun. Students from ECNU also joined our class to help us with our Chinese.

We took a small campus tour before having lunch with the director and deputy director of the university.

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Vince at ECNU Entrance

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Lunch with Director Wang and ECNU Students

Today’s word was “harmonious” which is a concept applied to everything on campus.

After class we journeyed into the city to visit People's Square which lead to us visiting the (Shanghai) museum which was truly fascinating.

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Shanghai Museum

My favorite exhibit was the Chinese jade. Some much detail and hard work was put into a true work of art.

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Chinese jade

After visiting People’s Square, we walked a short distance to see the Urban Planning Exposition Hall. Inside was the largest scale model in the world which was of the city Shanghai. The tour guide was very humorous and did an excellent job of showing the past to present of the marvelous city! He told us that Shanghai "’only 20 years ago” was mostly a fishing town and that he could still remember before the humongous building were erected. That simply is amazing how quickly this city has grown to its mind-blowing size. After this long day I could only look forward to what was in store.

We will be posting blog entries about our trip as it progresses, so be sure to check back for updates.

 Zàijiàn (Good bye)

 

6/16/14