MERIDIAN — Editor's note: Retired Meridian Public School District educator Mable Hoskins Oatis recently traveled to China as a member of an International Delegation of People to People Ambassadors. She shares highlights of her trip.
As one of 14 members of the International Delegation of People to People Ambassadors, I recently had the opportunity to visit educational and cultural sites throughout China, led by John K. Hudzik, Ph.D, from Michigan State University.
The purpose of People to People International (PTPI) is to enhance international understanding through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences directly among peoples of different countries and diverse cultures. People to People is dedicated to enhancing cross-cultural communication within/across communities and nations. Tolerance and mutual understanding are central themes. While not a partisan or political institution, PTPI supports the basic values and goals of its founder, President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
In Beijing, we were given an in-country briefing, a professional overview of higher education at Beijing Normal University (whose emphasis is teacher education), observed classes at 3e International Kindergarten, visited Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City, climbed the Badaling section of the Great Wall of China (which is said to be visible from space), visited the Temple of Heave and Hutong (Old Beijing), attended a Kung Fu Show and sampled Chinese cuisine at a number of restaurants, including Guomen Quanjude Beijing Roast Duck Restaurant.
Four days later, our group flew to Xi’an, where we visited the Dongtun Primary School in Hu County and the College of International Cultural Exchanges at Northwest University. We also visited the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, a holy place for Buddhists that is repository for thousands of Buddhist artifacts many brought from India. We visited the Jade Carving Center, the Terra-Cotta Warriors Museum and observed the excavation of more than 7,000 pottery soldiers, horses, chariots and weapons unearthed in three pits. And, we attended a performance of Chang’an Music and Dance at the Tang Dynasty Theatre Restaurant.
Our group then flew to Shanghai, “called the Wall Street of the Orient,” where we visited the Shanghai Xiangming High School and the Aurora Foreign Language Middle School. We strolled along the Huangpu River on the Bund, which is an epitome of Shanghai's history and colonial heritage with flower-stands, street lamps and historic buildings.
Other highlights of the visit included stops at a Shanghai Acrobatic Show, visiting the Shanghai General Silk Rug Factory, the Yu Garden built in 1577 by a government officer of the Ming Dynasty as a place for his parent to enjoy a tranquil and happy time in their old age, the Shanghai Museum, which houses a collection of ancient Chinese bronze, ceramics, paintings, and calligraphy, coins and other artifacts; and meandering through Old Town.
Having visited Egypt in 2007, I found the China experience as rewarding or even more so. China was on my" bucket list" and I found the experience awe-inspiring. Everything was done on a big scale — the Great Wall; Tian’anmen Square; the Bird’s Nest and the National Stadium nicknamed “the Water Cube, 2008 Olympic venue locations; the Terra-Cotta Warriors Museum an on-site museum that allows visitors to observe the excavations; are just a few of the amazing sites. It was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime experience.