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

June 27, 2013

Dragon Boat Festival, Pudong and More!

Filed under: Class,Shanghai — geachina @ 6:53 pm

By Erica Christianson and Joshua Neill

June 12-
Happy Dragon Boat Festival Day! Today is a national holiday in China, so everyone gets the day off to go eat zongzi (sticky rice inside of a leaf often with a taro or red bean filling) Why, you ask? Well, we had the same question, and after Professor Sheehan, Carlito, Michelle Lau and Lao Mao (our tour guide) put their heads together, they came up with this history (or this is as much as we can remember):

Back in the Warring States period there was a high official who can loosely be described as the first poet of China. He was part of the educated elite and liked literature. He got in a disagreement with the Chinese government and drowned himself in the river. The people really respected him, and they didn’t want the fish to eat his body, so they threw rice in the water for the fish to eat instead. Only you can’t just scatter rice, so they squished it up and wrapped it in a leaf, and thus the zongzi was born! Some stories continue with the people rowing a dragon boat out to rescue the body, which inspired the dragon boat festival.

After staying the night in probably the best hotel of this entire trip, we unfortunately had to leave, but not without saying goodbye to a large crystal Buddha worth 300 Million RMB (roughly 50 Million USD), which was quite a sight to see.

Crystal Buddha in the lobby of the hotel in Henan Province

Crystal Buddha in the lobby of the hotel in Henan Province

Then it was off to the airport, and we had to say goodbye to our local guide Joe. Zhengzhou was a city none of us had thought about before our trip, and it was enlightening to see that the Zhengzhou airport rivaled the largest and most modern airports in the USA, such as Denver International Airport. Once we got back, a group of us and Professor went around the corner for dinner, eating dumplings at a restaurant called Dong Bei Restaurant which means northeastern restaurant. Dumplings are traditional to northeast China and although we did not visit northeast China, our professor helped us find some of their authentic cuisine in Shanghai. The restaurant is by the university, and this week is finals week for the Fudan students. How do we know this? Because the first thing Professor Sheehan did was find a table full of baby freshman and introduce himself – just like a true academic.

June 13-
In class today we all picked partners for the assignment linked with our afternoon excursion.

Students mulling around during a break in lecture on Thursday afternoon

Students mulling around during a break in lecture on Thursday afternoon

In the classroom at the American Studies Center listening to group presentations

In the classroom at the American Studies Center listening to group presentations

After eating lunch in the area around Fudan, we all met in the lobby to get on the bus to head down to the Pearl Oriental Television Tower. We went up to the top – 273m above the ground, and got to see Shanghai from a bird’s-eye view. Such a breathtaking view may not exist anywhere else in the world. The Pearl Tower sits in China’s Pudong district – a Manhattan-esque financial district constructed in the 1990s. From the tower one can see spectacular views of some of modern architecture’s greatest beauties, such as the Jin Mao tower in Pudong.

The Pearl Oriental Television Tower from the ground

The Pearl Oriental Television Tower from the ground

One can walk around the orbital viewing deck of the Pearl Tower and also see the hub of port Shanghai and its 19th century European architecture across the Huangpu River. Once we had enough photos, we headed to the museum, the subject of our next assignment.

PapaSheehan and Carlos posing for a picture in the tower

Papa Sheehan and Carlos posing for a picture in the tower

Members from the class having fun and taking photos in the tower.

Members from the class having fun and taking photos in the tower

A reflected image of members of the class gazing at the city.

A reflected image of our class gazing at the city

The class looking out at the view of Shanghai from the top of the tower

The class looking out at the view of Shanghai from the top of the tower

A portion of the class in the elevator ride 273m up to the top of the Pearl Tower.

A portion of the class in the elevator ride 273m up to the top of the Pearl Tower

The museum covered the history of Shanghai up until 1949, and we were all on the hunt to find evidence of globalization. One of the things we most cherished learning from Professor Sheehan was how to rigorously analyze museums. The Pearl Tower is a major attraction for foreign tourists and the Shanghai History Museum presents an opportunity to convey a specific narrative of Chinese history to foreigners. It was fascinating to note that the museum completely left out the history of the Communist Party in Shanghai as well as the history of the Japanese occupation. Instead, the museum conveyed a capitalist, consumerist and wealthy Shanghai.

Sunny (left) and Kristi (right) interacting with displays in the Shanghai history museum in the basement of the tower.

Sunny (left) and Kristi (right) interacting with displays in the Shanghai history museum in the basement of the tower

: Cliff is resting on a bench in old Shanghai as part of the museum

Cliff resting on a bench in old Shanghai within the museum

The magic revealed with the green screen as the backdrop for the class

The magic revealed with green screen as the backdrop for the class

A group of the class poses for a group picture with a shot of old Shanghai in the background.

We pose for a group picture with a shot of old Shanghai in the background

On the shores of Pudong with all the financial buildings behind

On the shores of Pudong with all the financial buildings behind

Just chillin’ with @PapaSheehan while in the Pearl Tower

Just chillin’ with Papa Sheehan while in the Pearl Tower

Joshua took the opportunity to ask street vendors outside the restaurant about famous name brand watches and found an impressive collection of Rolex and Breitling. On the bus ride back, Tyler was educating everyone about country music, and Professor Sheehan was only slightly interested. It’s a tough genre to sell. We had the option to stay out in the city, but we all have homework, and spend the rest of the night up late working in pairs writing our papers. It was definitely a long night.

June 14-
The first hour of class was presentations, and of course everyone did a great job.

Amy and Charlene present their paper to the class

Amy and Charlene present their paper to the class

Once class was out we were free for the whole weekend, for this is the only weekend we have nothing planned and we all decided to stay in Shanghai and get to see the city more. Shanghai has many many things to do: I went to People’s Park and the Shanghai Museum, but I would recommend that future EASC students take a train to one of the other beautiful cities near Shanghai. Suzhou has beautiful gardens and Hangzhou has natural beauty. People’s Park was a fascinating part of the day as it provides a bit of culture shock. One sees hundreds upon hundreds of parents who have traveled far and wide in order to advertise their children for marriage. I dare not even comment on the cultural and socio-economic implications of this practice, but seeing it is surreal.

June 15-
As the first day on the free weekend we all did our own thing, and in the morning I went on an adventure out to Pudong to go play some ultimate Frisbee. It was fun to play with the Shanghai Ultimate team, even though today was the hottest day thus far. Not only did I learn how to navigate the subway much better, I also learned that I can get sunburned- even in this polluted cloud cover. Even though I can’t see the sun, it can see me, obviously. Once I get home we go out to Anfu, and this time we are armed with a map, and an address of a restaurant. This is going to work.

Anfu Road at night in front of Baker & Spice

Anfu Road at night in front of Baker & Spice

Food picture: dinner while out on Anfu Road.

Food picture: dinner while out on Anfu Road.

I meet up with Charlene to go over the project due on Monday, and we work until a little after midnight. Although when it turns midnight it means it is Sunday, and that means it is Charlene’s birthday. Happy birthday!

The birthday girl Charlene!

The birthday girl Charlene!

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