Dear readers, for this issue of Chongqing Stories, we invited some students from five high schools in Tuscany, Italy, to share the experiences they made during a summer camp in Chongqing last September. This two-week Summer Camp was organized by Hanban and Confucius Institute in Pisa with the aim of providing students interested in Chinese history and culture a chance to explore this beautiful land. Galileo Galilei Italian Institute(GGII) has been helping organize this kind of activities with logistic support since 2009.
After those two weeks, we talked with several students and below you can find some of their responses.
After the students landed in Chongqing, teachers from CQU and staff of GGII met them at the airport and provided them with all the useful information to begin their adventure in China. Then they attended the welcome ceremony organized by CQU. In the following days, they were given Chinese language class in the morning, where they got the chance to learn the basics of this highly complex idiom. According to them, It was quite difficult in the beginning, as Michele said “teachers spoke only in Chinese to conduct the class. This is different from the immersive learning that we were used to, but once this obstacle was overcome, we learned much faster.” Classes in the afternoon were mainly about Chinese history, such as Bayu culture in Sichuan and Chongqing regions, calligraphy, painting art, music and Kung Fu. Anna told us that “the daily schedule was not different from the one we have in Italy, so we got used to such pace of life very quickly.”
In their spare time, they had the chance to meet with Chongqing locals. Although the language barrier was strong, everyone they met showed patience and enthusiasm. People always say “hello” to the students whether they were walking in the street, eating outside or just resting on campus. Romeo added “We assume it is because we were a group of more than 70 people and locals may have found interesting seeing so many foreigners all together. Some of them wanted to take a photo with us, others just to say ‘hello’. Their warm and lovely smiles are unforgettable.” They visited Chongqing under the guidance of teachers from CQU. Virginia and Luisa told us that “the skyscrapers in Jiefangbei and the old buildings in Ciqikou were dazzling The night cruise along the Liangjiang Rivers was really amazing and the city look just beautiful at night.” In addition, they paid a visit to the great Buddhist art treasures in Dazu county, the Stone Carvings, and the giant panda Base in Chengdu. Besides Chongqing, they also went to Beijing where they visited the Great Wall, the Bird’s Nest, the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven and the Forbidden City. “What we have seen left us speechless. The places we visited were breathtaking and I couldn’t take my eyes of the majestic buildings we saw walking down the streets” , Noah said.
Although some of the students encountered minor issues during their trip, they all agree that this was a memorable journey. According to Jessica, the purpose of this summer camp is to “see” , and “Seeing means improving, understanding and discovering new cultures and places.”. As a Chinese saying goes, “You can learn more by traveling a thousand miles than by reading a thousand books”. No matter how long or short the journey is, you can always see different scenery, meet different people, experience different things, and get different feelings. At the end, Virginia concluded that “It’s pretty hard to sum up in few lines such an unforgettable experience. In these two weeks, we learned a lot about Chinese language and culture. We’ve even grown up a bit and this experience has left inside us a strong desire to come back to China and continue the exploration of this charming country.”