Culture Immersion Project: It all starts with the “dragon-elephant” tango

In the context of economic and globalization, developed countries in the West have huge influences in leading developments around the world. However, in the last 20 years, China, India and Brazil as the representatives of the developing countries has seen rapid development and thus, occupied a pivotal position.

Contemporary Chinese youths are becoming more and more familiar with Western culture, but have ignored the rise of these developing countries. They know little about them. Since many developing countries in their respective continents are mostly towards the south of developed countries, they are also called “South Countries.” In 2016, Tsinghua University began to set up a study abroad program for undergraduates called “Tsinghua Global South Culture Immersion Series.” The aim is to strengthen Tsinghua students understanding of the global and cultural situation of these developing countries so that students are able to develop an international vision and through such multicultural exchanges, they are able to create a more inclusive, complete and comprehensive world view. On 16th of January 2016, a group of twenty first year and second year students headed to another ancient civilization who happens to be our neighbor - India. This officially marked the start of their immersion program.

The Immersion Series in India was jointly organized by Tsinghua’s Office of International Cooperation and Exchange, Office of Academic Affairs, Tsinghua University Education Foundation, School of Social Sciences, School of Public Policy and Management, and other leading organizations. India’s O.P.Jindal Global University was the organizer for this immersion program. 81 Tsinghua students from 22 faculties signed up for the program and after learning Hindi and Indian culture and history for two weekends, 20 were selected to take part in the program. Their costs of living were funded by Mr. Xia Chaoyang, an alumnus graduated from the Department of Thermal Engineering in 1987.

During the 19 days in India, students participated in exchanges at O.P. Jindal Global University. Such activities included high-end dialogue, courses, field visit and daily communication. Students increased their understandings of this huge neighbor from learning about the history, politics, economy, culture and other aspects of Sino-Indian relations. Professors and scholars from O.P. Jindal Global University, the head of NGO, Bollywood filmmakers and experts from all walks of life came to share their views with the students.

The 2013 undergraduate Wu Gaite from the Department of Mechanical Engineering realized that India is not how he envisioned it to be. “Based on my own experience, Indian is safe and many places are safe. Whether it is at the train station or in some Calcutta market, even if we venture out on our own, it was safe. I didn’t sense danger at all. The locals told me that actually, there aren’t that many cases of rape in India. Those are merely the focus point for media reports which no doubt has left a deep impression on viewers.” Peng Yun, the teacher in charge of the program said: “Only by visiting the country first-hand will you understand how different it is from what we have first perceived it to be.”

After returning back to China, Peng Yun saw media reports about riots and clashes in India’s Haryana. “If I saw such reports prior to the India trip, I’d believe that India is really in a chaotic state however now, I am able to be more objective when I read such reports. This is because I’ve seen the stability, calm and normal state of India with my own eyes.” Cui Jiaming, a 2014 undergraduate and participant said: “I think India is so adorable! Many European countries are the same but India…well, this country gave me a real culture shock!”

Professor He Maochun from the Department of International Relations believes , “Regardless of whether it is the government or the market, there is a growing need for talents who are able to cooperate and remain in positive exchanges with developing countries to engage in developments from economy to trade to diplomacy to legal and technical projects and many more. Tsinghua University is keen to engage in more cooperation and exchanges and keep up with such growing demands.”

    Contributor

    Office of International Cooperation and Exchange

     

    Originality

    Spotlight Group

     

    Text

    Weiyuan Min

     

    Image

    Song Chen  

     

    Composition

    Zhao Xin, Yin Xia, Zhang Geming, Zhang Zheng

     

    Design

    Wang Yin, Zhang Ying