Letters from China: Honoring Summitt Abroad, Ming Tomb Museum, and Nanjing Design

Lola150Twenty-eight faculty, staff, and students have taken Big Orange Country to China through an English immersion summer camp—and the UT community can follow their adventures over the next two weeks. Team member Lola Alapo, public relations specialist in the Office of Communications and Marketing, is sending back reports about the group’s work and adventures.

China day 7
11:10 p.m. Friday, July 1

Happy Friday! Hooray!!

UT teachers walk to class in the rain Friday morning.

UT teachers walk to class in the rain Friday morning.

Also, it’s rainy season in Nanjing. We’ve been carrying umbrellas all week and using them off and on. But today was a real gulley-washer. Chinese and Americans alike arrived in class soaked and soppy.

But! It. Is. Friday! (And one week of using squatty potties. Success! You get quite the leg workout every time you need to use the restroom at school or out and about in town.)

My students this morning practiced public speaking through a “two-minute debate” exercise. They received a topic (“can money buy happiness?”), paired up and practiced both sides of the argument. They then publicly presented their side and had 30 seconds each to defend their argument. Then they switched sides.

This afternoon they swapped their “Dear John/Dear Jane” letters and wrote responses. Funny stuff!

We wrapped up the day practicing all three dances Rain and Myrna had taught them. What a great way to close out the week.

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In honor of Pat Summitt, the UT crew decided to wear orange/UT-related gear today. We also showed our Chinese students part of Athletics’ video tribute to Pat Summitt. It was cool to celebrate Big Orange Friday even though we’re half a world away.

China day 8
9:45 p.m. Saturday, July 2

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A walk through the gardens at the Ming Tomb Museum on the way to the tomb.

Coming to China wouldn’t be complete without exploring some of its ancient and historic sites. So Southeast University arranged a weekend of neat activities for us that included a trip to the Ming Tomb Museum in Nanjing, which tells the story of the rise and contributions of the Ming Dynasty. The museum visit on this rainy day included a peek into the smaller Brocade Museum—where several people were making brocade fabric on a centuries-old loom—and a walk through lovely gardens.

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The UT group visits the Ming Tomb Museum.

Following the museum, we went to an authentic Chinese restaurant where the food was served family-style. Oh, my word!! I couldn’t get enough of it. Good stuff!

A couple of people in our party spied a Kentucky Fried Chicken on the way back and made a quick stop for a little something from the Colonel. I can’t judge though because later that evening, I was craving my daily dessert/popsicle—and got a dipped cone at the mall’s Dairy Queen. Live and let live.

China day 9
8:20 p.m. Sunday, July 3

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Qiu Bin, dean of the Southeast University College for International Students, gives a lecture about China’s place in and impact on the world.

Today was another day of activities. We kicked off our Sunday with a fascinating lecture from Qiu Bin, dean of the Southeast University College for International Students, about China’s place in and impact on the world.

(Fun fact: Nanjing is very green and lush, much like East Tennessee. The reason? Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China, invited two American architects in the early 1900s to help modernize Nanjing, which was then the capital. That’s why there are lots of greenery and designed landscapes in the city. Also, Southeast University is in the top two in China for architecture and urban designing. Four professors who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania established SEU’s department of architecture in the 1900s.)

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A view from the Nanjing city wall. At the far right is the Zi Feng Tower, the tallest building in Nanjing.

After lunch, we stopped for a quick look at the six-dynasty tree on the SEU main campus. The tree is 1,500 years old.

We also visited the city wall and the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge. (Another fun fact: it was the first bridge the Chinese constructed without foreign help.)