USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences > Blog

June 16, 2015

Last Day in China

Filed under: Class,Culture,Shanghai — Yunwen Gao @ 8:42 pm

By: Yunwen Gao

Now that all the Global East Asia (GEA) scholars are flying over the Pacific Ocean back to LA, when I am organizing the photos I took along the trip I still can’t believe our summer program has come to an end. As Professor Sheehan’s metaphor goes… “coming to China is like going through a worm hole, time is both elongated and shortened.” It feels like our GEA family has been living together for more than a year, and yet we have only been together for a month. I can’t describe how immensely this summer course has reshaped many of our assumptions about Chinese consumerism and globalization, for both the scholars and myself as well. As someone born and brought up in China, this trip to Beijing, Kaifeng, and Shanghai is a process of rediscovering China through a fresh lens.

The final day consisted of the final project delivery and farewell banquet. Despite the last minute rush, as any last day of USC courses would have, our amazing scholars delivered their final projects at a high level of professionalism and insightfulness. The Foodies (Christopher Carpenter and Alice Kim) examined fast food restaurants and food courts in shopping malls in Beijing, Shanghai, and Kaifeng with our course tools, and compared the fast food industries in first tier cities versus a third tier city like Kaifeng.

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The Foodies Take on China: Christopher Carpenter (left) and Alice Kim (right) presenting their final project

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The Fast Food Restaurants of China’s Malls: A Claim to Global Cosmopolitanism

The Skins (Phoebe Yin, Megan Lee, and Ashley Szydel) focused on the cosmetics industry, in particular, face masks produced internationally and domestically, and formulated their observation of the three prevailing models of marketing strategy, the luxury, mainstream, and niche models supported by extensive research and interviews.

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The Face of the Chinese Cosmetics Market: Megan Lee (left), Ashley Szydel (middle), and Phoebe Yin (right) presenting their final project

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The Face of the Chinese Cosmetics Market: The Faces of Globalization

The Arhats (Jonathan Peppin, Psalm Chang, and Michelle Ngan) took the issue of the commodification of religion in China and enriched the dialogue of globalization greatly. Their visits to jewelry stores, Buddhist and Daoist temples, restaurants, etc., provided us with a new picture of how religion has been commodified to convey the sense of piety, pragmatism, and playfulness. With the help of Professor Sheehan, all three teams successfully elevated their observations and analysis of Chinese consumerism and globalization to a whole new level.

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Commodification of Religion in Contemporary China: Jonathan Peppin (left), Psalm Chang (middle), and Michelle Ngan (right) presenting their final project

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Piety, Pragmatism, and Playfulness: The Temple Model of Consumption in Contemporary China and the World

As we were waiting to be checked in at the Pudong airport, some of us started analyzing the advertisements around us. Looking at each other, we realized that walking out of this class, none of us could view advertisements or commercials as we used to do without examining what’s behind them. As the TA of this class, I feel proud of everyone in this program just as Professor Sheehan does and look forward to seeing each of them succeed in the future.

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Proud Papa Sheehan!

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Farewell Banquet in Shanghai

 

June 12, 2015

Exploring the Temples in Shanghai

Filed under: Class,Culture,Exploring,Shanghai,Travel — Yunwen Gao @ 5:24 pm

By: Jon Peppin, Psalm Chang, & Michelle Ngan

It has certainly been a busy couple of days for us. We have finally made it to Shanghai, and wow what a cool city it is! Never imagined that we would get to walk on the Bund in person and see what Papa Sheehan calls the “architect’s playground” before our eyes. It’s very different than Kaifeng in that there are actually many tourists, which makes us stand out less. At Xintiandi, the Old French Concession, we explored high-end shops and enjoyed the refurbished buildings. We got to experience how bartering works (and sometimes doesn’t work) at the City God Temple area, with its numerous shops of souvenirs and different items.

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A look at the architecture of Xintiandi, the Old French Concession.

In terms of our research project, we have been working very hard at figuring out a concrete thesis that would then lead to smooth transitions and present our evidence-driven argument in the most effective way. Needless to say, we’ve had to tweak and sometimes even change our theses completely. Guess that’s why it’s called a working thesis. Once we got the thesis established, the structure of our research became a lot more clear and we are now working on finalizing our thoughts into a succinct 1600-2400 word essay, as well as forming our presentation to share with our class.

Today was our last day doing deliberate fieldwork. Yunwen was kind enough to show us how to take the subway and the bus. Without her help, we would not have made it to the City God Temple and Jade Buddha Temple as smoothly as we did. The City God Temple stood out to us in the sense that the temple seemed to be willing to move along with society, specifically with the presence of Daoist-themed iPhone 6 cases. The gift shop cashier claimed that all of the objects for sale were blessed (“kai guang”), so buying the items would almost give the consumer an added sense of security, thereby giving the temple added power in terms of its marketing to its consumers. Our long morning doing fieldwork ended on a delicious note when Yunwen brought us to her favorite noodle shop, which is part of the Jade Buddha Temple site. We each had mushroom noodle soup–yummy!

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The Arhats and the amazing Yunwen enjoying bowls of mushroom noodles at the vegetarian noodle shop at Jade Buddha Temple.

It’s hard to imagine that our 2-week trip to China is coming to a close soon. We will definitely remember these days even after departing… taking this course has also been such an eye-opening and significant part of the trip that only added to the wonderful experience here.

June 3, 2015

Exploring Beijing!

Filed under: Beijing,Class,Culture,Exploring — Yunwen Gao @ 6:20 pm

By: Ashley Szydel, Phoebe Yin, and Megan Lee

Today is Day 4 in Beijing (A.K.A. Bae-jing…we have to entertain ourselves somehow.) for this 10/10 group!  (There are 10 of us, and each one of us is 10/10 on a scale of 1 to 10 Sheehan points.)  If we were typing this in Chinese, we would have omitted the number 4 because it sounds like the word for death and is considered bad luck. Since we’re typing this in English instead, we’ll let the 4 stay.  We cannot believe that we were just in a classroom in Los Angeles half a week ago!  It seems like it’s been an eternity since then.  However, we think it is safe to say that everyone is having an absolute blast in China!

So, although today was Day 4 and the number 4 is associated with death, our Day 4 was in no means death-like.  It was, in fact, CHOCK-FULL of life, energy, enthusiasm, and the like as we visited Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Hutong, and a few other locations.  This was quite a feat, considering that some of us had climbed to the very top of the Great Wall the previous day – mad props to these lion-hearted individuals!  If this synopsis of the day’s festivities has piqued your interest…read on for more pure entertainment from the scholars of Global East Asia China 2015.

We began the day with a visit to Tian’anmen Square, where we marveled at the People’s Hall and the enormous portrait of Mao Zedong.  As you can see, we scholars got some serious air in the photo below.  Here, we also see an impeccably dressed Professor Sheehan in his element at Tiananmen Square.  As a side note,  tomorrow, June 4 is actually the anniversary of the protests at the Square.

GEA China 2015 at Tian’anmen Square

GEA China 2015 in front of the portrait of Mao Zedong.

Professor Sheehan

We then visited the Forbidden City (but not so forbidden anymore).  It was larger than we expected, with so many nooks and crannies to explore.  Some of us wandered around the first plaza of the City for quite a while before we realized that there were a plethora of plazas (how’s that for an alliteration) beyond, waiting to be discovered.  A few places of interest in the City are the Imperial Garden, Hall of Mental Cultivation (where some green bean popsicles cultivated our taste buds), Concubines’ Quarters, and Throne Room.  In one of the photos below, we again see our wise and agile Professor Sheehan enjoying the view.  Infinite Sheehan Points were awarded to him, he is the Father of Sheehan Points, after all.

GEA China at the Forbidden City

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Professor Sheehan enjoying the view

We then took a rickshaw tour of a Hutong, which was a time of great merriment for all.  Many a rickshaw was given a friendly kick by the riders in the other rickshaws as they passed by, while we rolled through the streets of the Hutong.  No innocent bystanders, riders, or rickshaws were harmed during this process, we assure you. Though, we may not be able to say the same for egos.

Rickshaw race in 3, 2, 1…

Following the rickshaw tour, we proceeded to have lunch at Heping (Peace) Restaurant, where we consumed a myriad of delectable dishes and encountered French-Canadian tourists.  The food in Beijing is absolutely exquisite, and we are sure that we do not speak for ourselves when we admit that it is tough to stop helping ourselves to more!  At the end of the meal, we struck power-poses to re-energize and re-focus our bodies and minds in preparation for conducting fieldwork at Wanfujing.  There, the Foodies looked into the contextual relationship of fast food chains, the Skins took note of the marketing strategies of skincare products, and the Grab Bags analyzed religious icons in jewelry.  On a scale of one to a lazy Susan, we were at the most productive end of the spectrum (not the lazy Susan side).

After a quick class session in which we presented our research thus far, we ended our day with a fine dinner of Peking Duck (a famous delicacy of the city for good reason)!  And that, was the finale of our lovely frolic in the capital of China. Bright and early tomorrow, we’re off to Kaifeng!

June 2, 2015

Beijing Day 2!

Filed under: Beijing,Class,Exploring — geachina @ 11:01 pm

By: Jon Peppin, Psalm Chang, & Michelle Ngan

It’s hard to believe that we have only been in China for three days! In that time, we have been able to learn so much about the culture here in Beijing.

We were warned by Professor Sheehan that today was going to be a busy day, and he definitely wasn’t lying. One of the most amazing things we did was climb the Great Wall — specifically, the Juyongguan section. It was truly an awe-inspiring and tiring experience! Most of us were able to climb past four guardposts. Ashley, Psalm, Jon, Chris, and Professor Sheehan took it to a whole new level and made it up to the farthest part of the portion by climbing past seven guardposts, thereby earning official Sheehan points! The view at the top was simply breathtaking. Just imagining the amount of effort that went into building the wall, with its uneven steps and two distinct sides to the wall (i.e. one side being taller to keep the Mongols out) made us realize what a privilege it was to be there. When we made it back down to the bottom of the mountain, we rewarded ourselves with some iced tea and ice cream. Thanks Papa Sheehan!

Depiction of the victory of 4 students who gained official Sheehans for making it to the highest point of the Great Wall (Juyuguan section) and of course, proud Papa Sheehan.

Depiction of the victorious 4 students who gained official Sheehans for making it to the highest point of the Great Wall (Juyuguan section) and of course, proud Papa Sheehan.

Before climbing the Great Wall, we went to see the Ming tombs, particularly the Changling tomb, the tomb of the third emperor, Zhu Di and his wife, Empress Xu. An interesting fact that our tour guide told us was that even though there were 16 Ming emperors, there were only 13 tombs because the other emperors were buried outside of Beijing, in Nanjing. There were several parts of the enormous tomb: Ling’enmen gate (Gate of Emminent Favor), Ling’en Hall (Hall of Emminent Favor), Minglou (soul tower), and Baoding (where the Emperor and Empress are buried).

The Sacred Way was a nice breath of fresh air after being in the sun. We strolled through the path, which the emperor would walk through on the way to the Ming Tombs, except we went the opposite direction, since we had just come from the Ming Tombs. This stop was an example of dis-embedding because we were viewing the Sacred Way as a tourist attraction by stopping to take pictures and admiring the scenery. This was contrary to what would have happened at the time it was built or what the emperor used the path for.

To get a more modern perspective on Chinese architecture, our tour group then journeyed to the heart of Beijing to view the national symbols of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It was truly awe-inspiring to look upon the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube up close; it’s crazy to imagine that it has been 6 years since Beijing hosted the Olympics––we were just 6th, 7th, and 8th graders at the time! Oh, and we can’t forget Chris’s 15 seconds of fame when a mob of ladies decided to get pictures with him in front of the Olympic buildings. Mr. Carpenter then proceeded to talk about nothing except his claim to fame, and his plans to take Kaifeng by storm.

GEA China 2015 perched in front of the nest.

GEA China 2015 perched in front of the nest.

Just a bit about our research project progress- we, the “grab bag” group, were finally able to narrow down our topic by focusing on the pervasiveness of religion through various forms of expression (e.g. restaurants, fashion, and electronics). We’ll be conducting more field work tomorrow!

May 29, 2015

Taking off to China Tomorrow!

Filed under: Class,Los Angeles — Yunwen Gao @ 1:32 am

By: Ashley Szydel, Phoebe Yin, and Megan Lee

Group discussion on plans for research in China

Group discussion on plans for research in China

It has already been two weeks since the first day of class. Everyone is so nice, extroverted and intelligent, which makes the class all the more enjoyable. The friendly environment of the class, along with such a benign professor has made us look forward to our upcoming journey in China even more. Within only two weeks of lecture, we have gotten a basic understanding of Chinese history and dived into its consumer culture since day one. Once mysterious and exotic, this East Asian country has slowly begun to reveal itself in front of our eyes.

To begin with, we want to express our excitement about taking off to China tomorrow. The idea that there is just one day of class in Los Angeles left is thrilling, even more so when we think about all there is to come in the next two weeks. The ability to take the information we have been learning in class and apply it to our on-site research is definitely something to look forward to. As we pack our bags, we couldn’t help but wonder all that lies ahead in China. What we’ll experience, what kinds of exotic flavors we’ll be tasting, what beautiful sights we’ll be seeing, and last but not least, what research we’ll be doing for our final project are all questions we are asking ourselves.

For our group’s project, our initial idea is that our final research project be focused on the forms of cosmetic brand advertisement in China. We are more specifically concentrating on marketing strategies as displayed in advertisements by three higher-level brands such as, L’Oreal, Lancome and Estee Lauder, as well as three lower-level brands in China such as, Da Bao, Xiao Hu Shi, Pehchaolin. Marketing strategies employed by different cosmetic companies vary in China when compared to other countries. Exploring the Chinese consumers’ perceptions of beauty, we want to see how these perceptions affect Chinese cosmetic companies’ advertisements. Moreover, how foreign cosmetic products were modified to appeal to Chinese consumers is an additional interesting point to explore. Last but not least, we made the interesting discovery that brands with foreign counterparts are considered higher-level and domestic brands are often seen as lower-level in terms of their status and price. We hope to take these ideas and further understand the difference in marketing among higher-level brands when compared with lower-level brands of cosmetics in China. With our departure quickly approaching, we look forward to sharing more on our adventure in China shortly.

May 28, 2015

Collected Thoughts Before Departure

Filed under: Class,Culture,Los Angeles — geachina @ 2:14 pm

By: Jon Peppin, Michelle Ngan, and Psalm Chang

Jon

As our trip to China draws closer and closer, I cannot help but be amazed at how rapidly our class has flown by. Although our course is labeled “Consumer Culture in China,” I feel as if I have learned an incredible amount about China’s history and political atmosphere in only 7 short days (information that normally entails a semester of study in other political science courses I have taken).

This RMB calculator slide might come in handy while in China, but more importantly, our great professor and TA made it in the shot.

This RMB calculator slide might come in handy while in China, but more importantly, our great professor and TA made it in the shot.

In terms of my own topic, I am extremely excited to study the reciprocal relationship between producer and consumer and all the characteristics of consumption in China on a first-hand basis. I plan to focus in on the electronics industry, with the domestic cellphone distributor, Xiaomi, being the center of my analysis. For my two page paper, I focused in on brand representation as a marketing strategy for the Xiaomi corporation, and the idea of consumption as a means of identity reinvention. It will be fascinating to examine the prevalence of this degree of consumption-induced identity in greater detail.

I am further looking forward to sharing and joining ideas with my group members; our objects of consumption span a wide range of interests, from the marketing of cosmetics, to the spreading of religious ideology. Although I am not absolutely certain as of now in terms of what area of emphasis we plan to hone in on––whether it be national v. international marketing, or the marketing of tangible v. intangible goods, I am looking forward to whatever adventures our studies will bring, and am extremely enthusiastic to be able to forge our own pathways towards our discoveries.

Michelle

In our class thus far, we have read a variety of extraordinarily informative texts concerning consumer culture in China and globalization. I thought I had a good idea of what globalization was, but after the first day of class, I remember leaving the classroom not really knowing what globalization really meant. It’s really interesting reading these different texts and trying to develop an idea of globalization and determine its effects in China, particularly urban Chinese consumers. These readings, and our subsequent discussions of them, have really opened my eyes to what these consumers are like.

Throughout this past week and a half, we have been examining advertisements marketed towards these urban Chinese consumers, and analyzing them using techniques gained from our readings. It’s certainly helped me to look at an advertisement more objectively — not only the advertisements in class, but also the ones that I encounter every day here in the U.S. For my two-page paper, I focused on two advertisements released by Adidas as part of the transnational #mygirls campain: one during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the other in 2013. An interesting similarity between the two ads was the lack of marketing of clothing; rather, it appeared that Adidas was attempting to market the brand itself and the fact that its values aligned with the intended audience’s values of support networks.

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This first ad features Chinese national football captain Zheng Zhi.

This second ad features Taiwanese girl group member Hebe Tian.

This second ad features Taiwanese girl group member Hebe Tian.

This will be my first time traveling to China. I am really excited to travel to China and see all the tourist spots, as well as gather evidence for the final paper, for which I am focusing on clothing advertisements for local and foreign clothing brands. So far, it’s been great getting to know everyone and preparing for the upcoming trip!

Psalm

Echoing the sentiments of my two group mates, I am amazed by how much knowledge I have learned thus far in less than two weeks of class. Time goes by pretty fast, as the subject of the globalization of China and consumer culture is of interest to me. To be honest, I have never studied anything close to the topics we have been examining, so everything I am taking in is new and I am excited to apply the information learned while conducting research. Although the readings are lengthy and sometimes dense, the various texts we read are all adding to the tools that I will take with me to China and after finishing the course. One thing I’ve especially enjoyed reading is Lianne Yu’s book, Consumption in China, as it presents recent research and case studies that look into how China’s rapid development affects so many aspects, even beyond consumer culture, of Chinese people’s lives.

My two-page paper focused on two temples in China, Hanshansi Temple and The City God Temple of Shanghai. I looked into the different levels of appeal that each site presented, and how it was translated into different target audiences. The Hanshansi Temple is geared toward a broader audience, while The City God Temple focuses on those who practice the religion. Writing this paper brought me to realize that I will have to look further into religions, especially those practiced widely in China. To take a look at the websites I used, visit http://loading.hanshansi.org/index.html and http://www.shchm.org/

I’m sure our next post will find us intrigued by an even wider amount of knowledge and getting to know more about each other as we go off to experience China for ourselves!

 

May 27, 2015

The FoodFellas Take the Chinese Fast Food Market

Filed under: Class,Los Angeles — geachina @ 11:39 pm

By: Alice Kim and Chris Carpenter

As our two-week study session on USC campus is halfway done, we are excited to take what we’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to our explorations in China. For the past week, we’ve met up for 3 hours every morning from 9am-12pm in Von Kleinsmid Center (VKC) to learn more about the history and emergence of China as a superpower in the international community, the result of dynamic changes in social, economic, and political spheres, and enforcement of strict government policies such as the one child policy. All of us are extremely enthusiastic and passionate about learning more of China’s history and are amazed at the speed and intensity of growth within the past forty years. We all come from different backgrounds and majors, such as business, art history, and cinematic arts, but are connected through our desire to learn, dissect, and predict the economic changes of the world’s most populated nation.

The classroom schedule goes as follows: roughly two hours of announcements, answering questions about the overseas trip, and lectures and another hour of discussion on the assigned articles and books we’ve read. Our class was able to read several anecdotes and scholarly papers to gain knowledge about the past and presently changing consumer cultures in Beijing and Shanghai. Our main course readings come from Lianne Yu’s Consumption in China, a fairly short and easy read that contains 7 chapters. Lianne Yu focuses her attention on the middle and upper-middle classes of consumers in China as they are deemed the most dynamic and receptive of changes in their society. She highlights how conspicuous consumption has dramatically shaped and created various identities among consumers and how communication among neo-tribes, or groups of people affiliated with a common interest, has developed meaningful spaces of consumption and discussion in both the virtual and real worlds. Some chapters included the different lifestyle changes, increase in awareness, and change of status from the previous socialist society to the now capitalistic one.

Our textbook for the course and guide through China's consumer culture.

Our textbook for the course and guide through China’s consumer culture.

Our lectures allowed us to receive background information on the formation of the government, different political ideologies, and nationalism in China. We look forward to the next two weeks of information gathering and ad analysis in Beijing, Shanghai, and Kaifeng as well as exploration of these historic and culturally rich landmarks in China.

In structuring our research projects, we’ve had to equally weigh the ideal with the practical. We’re a diverse and passionate group of students who come from divergent areas of academic interest, but the reality of the project (and the key to the best, most solidified thesis) is to consider the in-country field research. Our group has decided to investigate the role of the fast food-style restaurant in China, a transplantation of a Western model to food and service that has taken hold and provided Chinese consumers with new and, as we’ve come to find out, valuable experiences. The strength of our project will be determined by our investigation of available sources and pieces of evidence regarding how the fast food industry has proliferated across Chinese urban spaces. It will be a wealth of information.

Our investigation of the Chinese fast food market will take us deep inside the world of the FoodFellas.

Our investigation of the Chinese fast food market will take us deep inside the world of the FoodFellas.

In class we had the opportunity to practice our analytical and critical thinking skills by comparing and assessing two or more images from various advertising campaigns across the Chinese market. Two of the most prevalent brands in the Chinese fast food market – KFC and McDonald’s – are both exports from the United States, but have taken hold and created interesting opportunities for culturization in various forms. Neither are pure, facsimile exports; they consider and employ tactics, images, phrases, and sensibilities that cater to and entice the Chinese consumer. For example, KFC is capitalizing on the Korean wave (Hallyu) that has impacted the consumer markets of East Asian nations, especially China. As seen in the ad below, Korean pop idols and actors are often used as celebrity endorsements to bring awareness of a new product for fast-food restaurants. McDonald’s, on the other hand, utilizes a sense of “foreign-ness” and globalized sensibilities to sell its products. Offerings such as the “Frappe Blend” and “Apple-a-la-Mode” are advertised in a way that makes no attempt to deculturize their Western origins or reculturize to its Asian market; rather, that sense of worldliness is what makes them valuable.

This ad shows 2 members from the South Korean pop boy group, EXO, posing with the StarPower combo and gift meal for the Chinese KFC’s most recent celebrity endorsement campaign.

This ad shows two members from the South Korean pop boy group, EXO, posing with the StarPower combo and gift meal for the Chinese KFC’s most recent celebrity endorsement campaign.

This Chinese McDonald's advertisement uses the phrase "Apple-a-la-Mode," itself an American phrase of French origin.

This Chinese McDonald’s advertisement uses the phrase “Apple-a-la-Mode,” itself an American phrase of French origin.

Ultimately, we are ecstatic to travel to China with the East Asian Studies Center and the Global East Asia program, and we can’t wait to delve into the world of advertising for fast food restaurants in the Chinese market to come to understand Chinese consumer culture and its relationship to the world a little better.

July 8, 2014

Traveling to “The Margins”

Filed under: Beijing,Class,Dunhuang,Gansu — geachina @ 1:55 am

By Eri Aguilar

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Strutting through Tiananmen Square. Beijing, China. 2014/6/05–Aguilar, Eri

Our study of globalization at the margins has taken us through northern and western China. We stopped in Beijing (the national capital), Xi’an (a culturally significant ancient city that sits between China’s east and west), Lanzhou (the capital and largest city of Gansu Province in Northwest China), and lastly Dunhuang (a county-level city in northwestern Gansu Province). As we continued on a path deeper into China from the city of Beijing it became evident to me that we were entering the margins of China when the presence of skyscrapers was immensely reduced. Growing accustomed to being surprised I had high expectations for this trip.

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The Snapping Turtle of The Forbidden City in Beijing, China. 2014/6/05–Aguilar, Eri

Upon our arrival in the city of Beijing we made our way through the Tiananmen Square into the Forbidden City. The heat was tiring, but with every step I took through Tiananmen Square, I could feel my curiosity and enthusiasm overpower my feeling of exhaustion. It was incredible to contemplate that I was walking on the same land where one of China’s more controversial events occurred. I could envision the multitudes of students and common folks occupying the space to express their political opinions 25 years ago (in 1989). After walking through a metal detector, providing a fingerprint and gladly availing myself to a pat down I proceeded to enter the Forbidden City. At the gates of the Forbidden City I was stupefied at the sight of its architecture. The gates were truly magnificent with their 81 golden rivets shinning as the sunlight struck them.

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A little rain at the “Great Wall of China.” 2014/6/05–Aguilar, Eri

Though there was forecast for rain, the Trojan family nevertheless decided to fight on and continue with our plan to climb the Great Wall. Not surprisingly a light drizzle evolved into a heavy downpour with rain droplets the size of water balloons! Fortunately, the heaviest segment of that storm came about the moment we reached the top of the Great Wall. Our tour guide expressed her skepticism in our abilities to persevere, but we all climbed up and made it down safely. As I felt the rain soak into my Air Force Jordan’s I could also feel a moment of spiritual replenishment when I stared down from the top of the Great Wall to our starting point and contemplated the effort that it must have taken to construct such a structure. The thought imbued me to continue striving towards building my own legacy. After climbing The Great Wall of China we had lunch and conveniently found a hand dryer that served as clothes dryer for the group.

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The Mogao Grottoes- Home to the 3rd Biggest Buddha in the World. 2014/6/09–Aguilar, Eri

The search for globalization at the margins of China exposed us to The Mogao Grottoes. It was incredible to have read about this site earlier in the week and to actually have the opportunity to study it trough firsthand experience. The article we covered in class gave us the context to better understand and appreciate the images and statues that were being preserved at this location. I was astounded when I tried to take in the 3rd biggest Buddha in the world. I had to adjust my head all the way back to be able to get a good view of the statue. Looking at the craftsmanship on the Buddha, I began to contemplate the patience that the artists must have possessed to be able to produce such detail. The location is so humongous that we could not see all of it because we ran out of time and also only some segments are open every season.

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“An Oasis Along The Silk Road”. DunHuang, Echoing Sand Dunes. 2014/6/10–Aguilar, Eri.

Spending a majority of my youth living the city life, I was taken away by the sight of Echoing Sand Dunes. Its postcard-like scenery makes it easy to step outside of reality for a moment. We had arrived early so the heat was not intolerable. I recall that my feet breaking though the warm sand gave me a soothing sensation and I will also never forget being so close to camels. We all had fun climbing up the sand dunes and either running or sliding down. Looking around I could envisage merchants interacting in this oasis along the Silk Road. I will never forget these experiences.

July 1, 2014

The Last Few Days in Shanghai

Filed under: Class,Shanghai — Tags: , , — geachina @ 5:08 pm

By Jeff Levine and Ethan Levin

Wednesday was the second-to-last class, and after the presentations of the Shanghai margins project, we realized we only have one more day of lecture upon us. The end was coming up fast. Along with this end was our final project – it was a marathon of a week! The freedom afforded to us in the prompt of this last project was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because we could talk about anything within the realm of globalization; a curse, because the vague parameters caused some soul searching among the GEA participants: What was the most relevant of topics that we should discuss for this last thesis? We spent much of the rest of the day attempting to figure out what it is that we should be talking about.

On Friday morning, we had our final class. It was a bittersweet moment. On one hand, we were excited to be done with the marathon week of presentations and be finished with work; while on the other hand, it would be the last time we would be meeting to watch and root each other on. We’ve come a long way from where we started. We have a clearer understanding now of just how unclear the word “globalization” can be, and can better examine the complexities that revolve around it – especially when it comes to China.

Chip and Amanda giving their last presentation

Chip and Amanda giving their last presentation

After class, we had some afternoon free time to explore, nap, or do whatever before the banquet. We decided to take the opportunity to go visit the Shanghai Science and Tech Museum – conveniently a stop along the subway lines (a subject on which, by now, we’ve become experts). We’ve already explored the incredible shopping center underneath; however, we (embarrassingly) had yet to check out the actual museum. We were glad we did. The museum was incredible. Each floor housed a few different exhibits, each one emphasizing intimate interaction and participation. The first floor, my favorite, featured a recreation of the Yunan Rainforest. It was an elaborate array of (fake) animals and plants, complete with bamboo bridges, waterfalls, and caves – plus even more exhibits within the exhibit, devoted to insects, birds, molecular studies, and more. This was only the beginning, though it had the greatest impact. The other floors featured body and health, the universe, information technology, and robotics.

A rainy day at the Shanghai Science & Tech Museum

A rainy day at the Shanghai Science & Tech Museum

The entrance to the rainforest exhibit

The entrance to the rainforest exhibit

After the museum, we got back with just enough time to prepare for the banquet. After a 40-minute taxi ride, as well as some sleuthing for the right building, we arrived at the restaurant. The banquet was course after course of delish food, such as fish, egg rolls, cabbage, duck, tofu, and more. Our stomachs were long satiated before the waiters (or fúwùyuán) stopped coming. Just writing about it now makes me hungry again! While the food was superb, there was, yet again, a bittersweet mood to the dinner. We were all so happy to be feasting on this deliciousness together, but we all knew that this would most likely be the last time we were all together (already one of our comrades had left us, shout out to you Steven!). We concluded the night with one final tour around the neighborhood.

Everyone together at the banquet

Everyone together at the banquet

A group of us with the Professor walking around the banquet neighborhood

A group of us with the Professor walking around the banquet neighborhood

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June 24, 2014

Back From Our First Expedition

Filed under: Class,Hangzhou,Shanghai,Travel — Tags: , — geachina @ 4:35 pm

By Steven Luong and Olivia Chui

A few hours were spent in Hangzhou, a city a few hours west of Shanghai. The group took a boat ride around West Lake and strolled around the picturesque lake. The place was bustling with tourists and locals alike and the group witnessed many people enjoying their weekend afternoon. Afterwards, the group bused back to Shanghai.

Taken: Hangzhou, Saturday May 31, 2014 at 14:40

Some of the group before a boat tour of West Lake in Hangzhou (Taken: Hangzhou, Saturday May 31, 2014 at 14:40)

Taken: Westlake, Hangzhou. Saturday May 31 at 14:35

A picture of the boat after the tour (Taken: West Lake, Hangzhou. Saturday May 31 at 14:35)

On a rain-filled Sunday, a day of rest and fun was in order. Many students stayed around the Fudan University area, taking time to recoup from the exhausting travels of the previous few days. Others decided to brave the wet weather and venture to other parts of the city like the popular City God Temple Area, a vestigial landmark of old Shanghai.

Taken: Pudong, Sunday June 1, 2014 at 17:40

Road signs at a popular Shanghai intersection (Taken: Shanghai, Sunday June 1, 2014 at 17:40)

Taken: City God Temple, Sunday June 1, 2014 at 18:00

A view of the City God Temple area from a restaurant (Taken: City God Temple, Sunday June 1, 2014 at 18:00)

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