In January 2011, the 24 first-year students of Cohort VII traveled to China. The trip was led by Program Director Gisella Gisolo; Wenjie Yan, Professor of Communication Studies and Chinese at East Stroudsburgh University; and Teaching Fellow David Fine from Lehigh University's Department of English.
- All-day visit to a school for children of migrant workers in Shanghai.
- Interview with migrant construction workers about their life and challenges in a changing economy.
- Half-day excursion to Nanhui, a new giant construction project near Shanghai which is one of the "ghost cities" signaling the booming development of Chinese global economy.
- Visit to an NGO district (one of the first NGOs established in Shanghai).
- Overnight homestay with Shanghainese families.
- Volunteering in the community: visit with an elderly community to share memories, presents, and dumpling-making.
- Visit to Shanghai Totole, the world's largest bouillon factory (part of the giant multinational Nestle group) launched in 2009.
- Three-day excursion to the charming ancient "river towns" of Hangzhou, Souzhou, Xitang and Tongli.
- Tour of the Bund (old Shanghai) and of the city's art district.
- Briefing at the US Consulate.
- Night cruise on the Huangpu river.
- Lehigh Alumni reception.
This trip allowed students to experience Shanghai from a variety of perspectives and experiences. As shown in the listing above, students had exposure to cultural, educational, political, and economic views of China and its people. Cuisine was just one aspect that enriched the experience for Marissa Feinman '14, "I was completely unaware of how large of a role food played in the lives of the Chinese people; not just about the taste of the food in general, but about the meaning behind their cooking styles and how they are connected to the virtues of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are used to show how opposites can compliment each other and can be used to show where a person fits in their stature and way of life. To be able to tie this idea to the origins of the Chinese cuisine and being able to connect each idea of the Yin and Yang to different foods is a very powerful thing. In my opinion, I feel that Americans, or at least I as an American, do not have a deep connection to food through insights that have been present for thousands of years. Sure we Americans may have our own traditional foods from our ancestors and our backgrounds, but I believe it is nowhere as deep routed as that of the Chinese cuisine....There is no better way to really examine and get to know a culture than through the foods that they eat every day."
One experience that resonated with Cohort VII student Erin Lau was the visit to the school for children of migrant workers in Shanghai. She writes, ""The tallest of “my” kids (I think she was actually the youngest) tugged on my sleeve before we left and I found myself kneeling with them. The first one that spoke to me, the one who asked if I was happy, was the one that asked, “will you remember us?” It was the strangest question. Would I remember them? Again, I had never had anyone ask me that before. If it had been anyone else, any child of the fifteen or so I used to watch for church, I would have answered with (mostly) false sincerity. I found myself meaning what I said when I responded. “I will,” I promised them. “Will you?” I receive their cheerful, childish grins in reply... We will not forget."
from left to right:
A large fruit market
Playground games with the children
Walking through the streets of Shanghai