Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Absorbing culture, understanding partnership

Over spring break, students and faculty chaperones traveled to Shanghai to visit Peddie's sister school, EFZ. Each student will enjoy a homestay experience with a fellow EFZ student, participate in a host of group activities and work on an independent project in conjunction with an EFZ student partner.

From Bianca:

Our day started off with being a part of EFZ—our sister school’s—morning assembly. Part militant, part celebratory, morning assembly here is a surreal experience to us from Peddie.  The classes line up, jog to their positions, and raise the national flag. This morning’s meeting featured special EFZ-Peddie exchange welcomes from Daniel Tao and Patrick from EFZ and Maeve and Mike from Peddie. Food of course followed in our private dining room, where we feasted family style (with a turning table-plate!) on buns(包子), eggs (), cakes and sweet bread.


After breakfast, we learned just why Peddie is partnered with EFZ—our partners toured us through the school’s dedication hall, classrooms, and labs and allowed us to sit in for some of a class, managing to find time to also meet some of the other international-program students during PE. Labs here are amazingly high-tech, classrooms intimate, and the overall layout of the school extraordinary, classes are lecture-style. An official EFZ-Peddie intro took place in the international wing’s meeting room where, our introduction of ourselves in Chinese was praised by the school’s principal “You will speak even better at the end of your stay”.  We were then treated with another feast for lunchJ.

Branching away from campus, we ventured into Shanghai. In and around Nanjing Road is the center of Shanghai’s high-paced life, the epitome of what we’ve expected Shanghai to be. The () river which runs through Shanghai splits the city into the east (浦东) and west (浦西) (literally east and west of the river). The east side is notably more modern, the architecture more of Shanghai’s own innovation of mainly office buildings and hotels. The west side, where we spent most of our time, hosts mainly western-influenced buildings (English supplementing much of the Chinese names on the stores) similar to New York with apartments layered over a ground level of stores. Nanjing Rd. (南京路)is like Time Square with the largest department stores and branching out to side roads filled with more stores and food. Walking through motorized bikes, trolley cars, double-deckers, and some cars, becoming one with traffic is part of the culture (although, to spare parents, none of us have video proof).


video
Peddie dove back in time in one of Shanghai’s museums in the Bund, the Indian-influenced name for this part of the city. It features, from the top-down, culture from the other 55 of China’s minority cultures (Han is the dominant nationality in China), Chinese art (e.g. calligraphy, paintings, etc.), and Buddha Taoism culture. In my group, we found the fourth floor entrancing. Even in the hour we had, we were only able to tour through three of its four exhibits. In the textiles and costume section, printmaking designs, different outfits, and masks demonstrated how each piece of clothing was crafted intentionally for specific and diverse purposes. The Jade gallery displays an incredible spectrum of quality and incredibly intricate carvings into jade. Investigating the currency gallery offered insight into much of China’s political history. Pre-Song dynasty coins existed with and without western influence, and paper money with precise, political prints arose after the Song dynasty.
view of Shanghai from the night cruise

Touring Day I saw us through a series of group pictures (where some of us in this American tourist group were extremely popular with ShanghaineseJ) on the east side of the river, the west in the background. A delicious dinner and night-cruise (in the VIP section—谢谢高老师!) complemented the end of our schedule. Whether hackey-sacking in our group and with locals or fusing our music from back home into our time spent in this city, today we thoroughly embraced Shanghai culture into our own lives.

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