A delegation of 12 students and two faculty members from the University of Alberta, Canada, came to UIC for two weeks to take part in a short-term programme. This three-credit course consisted of classes, trips, tours and presentations. The International Development Office (IDO) has worked with the group from the University of Alberta to offer a bi-yearly programme that has been designed to give a well-rounded experience in such a limited time.

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Group photo

On their first say, the group left campus in the morning to visit the Putuo Temple, the Zhuhai Meixi Royal Stone Archways, the Former Residence of Chen Fang, and the Chen’s Garden and Cemetery. Afterwards, the group traveled to Wanzai Seafood Street and ate lunch at a local seafood restaurant. Following lunch, the group visited the Huafa mall, the Guyuan Museum of Art, Zhuhai’s Fisher Girl statue, and the Zhuhai Opera House. Finally, the exchange group visited Dazhaimen Restaurant for a traditional Cantonese style welcome dinner with IDO staff, UIC student volunteers, and UIC faculty members.

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Sightseeing around Zhuhai

On the second day, the students of the University of Alberta were shown around the campus, which included a visit to the gymnasium as well as UIC’s own archery field. They were given an introduction about Chinese archery by the Associate Director of the Students Affairs Office (SAO), Mr. Li Junyang, before watching a demonstration by Year 1 Media Arts and Design (MAD) Programme student, Deng Chenyang. Chenyang said he has been interested in Chinese archery since he was young, and he was happy that UIC provided a chance for him to learn it. He had only been practicing for three months but he still managed to hit the target on all his shots.

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Tour of the campus

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Deng Chenyang provides a demostration of Chinese archery

The students then attended their first Chinese Language Culture class, with Chinese Language and Culture Centre (CLC) Associate Professor, Dr Jenny Cui, as the lecturer. The students began by learning the basics but soon started to pick up more during their stay at UIC.

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Chinese language lesson with Dr Jenny Cui

During the short-term programme, Whole Person Education Office (WPEO) Facilitator II, Mr Lin Boyu, taught the students and professors from the University of Alberta about Tai chi. Boyu provided a demonstration and went through many movements with the group. After Tai chi, the group was taken to Zhuhai’s famous Gongbei underground market, where they purchased gifts and explored the shops.

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Mr Lin Boyu teaching the students Tai chi

Another class that the students took was calligraphy. Chinese calligraphy is a form of writing and is appreciated for its aesthetic quality. Calligraphy has a long tradition, and is considered one of the arts in China. CLC lecturer, Ms Candy Cai Jingjing, led the class and she was joined by Dr Wu Bingzhao, who gave a demonstration on how to perform the stroke. The students practiced how to hold the brush before learning how to perform different strokes.

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Ms Candy Cai explains calligraphy

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Dr Wu Bingzhao shows how to perform the strokes

IDO also organised a two-day trip to Guangzhou City on 12-13 January. The group set off early in the morning, with the Guangdong Museum being the first stop. The museum boasts a collection of over 160,000 pieces, including masterpieces of ancient China, which impressed the students. They also made a visit to Nanyue King Museum as well as Dr Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. Some of the students have already learnt about Dr Sun Yat-sen in their previous course. After visiting The Chen Clan Academy, they gathered in a Chinese traditional restaurant for dinner.

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Trying a range of Chinese cuisines including Dim sum

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During the second day, they visited the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees (Liurong Temple) and after they went to the Baomo Garden in Panyu. In the afternoon, they arrived at Dongchong water village, which resulted with them taking a boat on the river.

On 16 January, the delegation from the University of Alberta explored areas on Qi'ao Island. WPEO Facilitator II, Ms Sara Mo, guided the group and provided translation. First, they went to the Chinese White Dolphin Science Museum and learned about the white dolphin population in the South China Sea. The representative from the museum and the students discussed different factors that affect the dolphins. Next, they walked through the mango forest and learned about the vegetation on Qi'ao Island. Finally, they visited the local village and walked along the white stone road while learning about the villages' history.

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Ms Sara Mo guides the group around Qi'ao Island

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Visiting the local markets

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On 17 January, the students started the day by learning the Dragon and Lion dance, taught by WPEO Assistant Professor, Ms Helene Han Ying. Chinese dragons are a symbol of China's culture, and they are believed to bring good luck to people. The movements in a performance traditionally symbolise historical roles of dragons demonstrating power and dignity.

The Lion dance is a form of traditional dance in Chinese culture which performers mimic a lion's movements in a lion costume to bring good luck and fortune. The lion dance is different to the dragon dance as it is normally operated by just two dancers and has a tail, while the dragon is longer and is held on poles by many people. The students took control and learnt the movements of both the dragon and the lion.

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Ms Helene Han Ying teaching the famous Dragon dance

During the course, the students got to visit three companies in the Zhuhai area. The first company was the leader of China’s watch brands, Zhuhai Rossini Watch Industry Ltd. Rossini has earned many outstanding rewards for high quality personalised designs. The buildings at Rossini were built with Italian inspiration; named after one of the great Italian composers Giochino Antonio Rossini. The students were welcomed and given a tour around the museum, which showcased a fantastic interpretation of different understandings and operations of time. They were then shown the factory floor where the group got to witness the process of production of Rossini watches.

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Watching the production line at Rossini Watches

The second place on the tour was to Zhuhai National Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone, where the group was given a presentation about the area and what benefits they can offer to businesses before hosting a question and answer session.

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Visit to the Zhuhai National Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone

The final part of the tour was to the Kirin Brewery (Zhuhai) Co., Ltd. This company brews the famous Kirin beer as well as other various beers that are under the Kirin brewing company. The students were shown the production before getting the chance to sample some of the different beers and beverages that are brewed onsite. The tour ended with a trip to downtown Zhuhai for a hotpot dinner.

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Visit to Kirin Brewery

One the last day at UIC, the group got to show what they have learnt by giving individual presentations. The presentations were on different assignments and each student was given 15 minutes to present on a range of topics about China and the economics. After the final presentations, the Director of IDO, Dr Katharina Yu gave individual certificates and gifts to each of the students and faculty members before ending with a speech hoping they have a safe trip home and that they can take something away from this experience.

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The students and faculty members with their certificates

Feedback

Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at the Augustana Campus, University of Alberta, Dr Jane Yardley said “Our campus really prides itself on experiential learning, and we find that the students will hold on to their lessons more if they are participating and experiencing. That is exactly what this trip provided. They are seeing, listening, and talking, basically doing everything to make this a lasting experience”.

She hopes the students will learn more about the culture as well as understand China in the global context when they return home from this trip. She is pleased the students are ‘living it’ by trying the local cuisines, seeing the environment, and mostly opening their minds to the rest of the world.

Year 4 Management and Economics student at the University of Alberta, Patrick Boily, showed great enthusiasm when asked for feedback of this programme, “I really enjoyed this programme,” he said. “The campus is beautiful, the classes were great, especially the Mandarin classes as we could use what we have learnt at the cafeteria or in daily conversations at the markets.” Patrick spoke highly of the programme and said his favourite part were the tours, notably the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Museum.

"It was great. I got to experience China but from the perspective of a student. I got to see what university life is like in China and at a Chinese university. I also got to sight-see and go see some amazing places. It was an experience to remember" said Environmental Science student at the University of Alberta, Sam Awad.

The John P. Tandberg Chair in Economics at Augustana Campus, University of Alberta, Dr Varghese A Manaloor, has been to UIC three times previously but this was his first time to the new campus with his students. “It’s a beautiful campus that has grown fast. I love the lay-out especially the connectivity between the buildings.” He mentioned this year’s group was the largest and he is pleased with the support IDO offered them. Regarding what he hoped the students learnt on this trip, Dr Manaloor replied “I do hope that this trip opens their minds to boarder settings of what is happening around the world as well as develop their global vision.”

Dr Manaloor sees the trip as a success and he is delighted with the classes and tours that were offered. He commented that the students got to understand more in depth about China’s economic reform. “The food has been a good experience”, responded Dr Manaloor when asked about his favourite part of the trip.

When asked about this short-term programme, IDO Administrative Officer, Jasmine Sun Huimin said "The group from the University of Alberta brought an international atmosphere to UIC, and students from the two universities had an opportunity to communicate in depth. I hope all Alberta teachers and students enjoyed their trip, and they got to learn more about the real China”.