We had another long, energetic and educational day here in Hunan province. The day at the park was wonderful, but now the intellectual part begins. Here are Chris and Nathan to explain:
“Hello my name is Chris. I am a citizen of Hong Kong but am a British national living overseas. I have done NHD since seventh grade and am currently in ninth grade. I look forward to participating in more national history days. On this day (September 25th), we stand in front of the very steps leading to Mao Zedong’s University which is known as the “Hunan First Normal School.” We learned all sorts of trivial and important facts of Mao and the school such as how Mao would shower using cold water in the middle of the winter to build his body.
After the tour, our wonderfully lucky group of thirteen people along with our partners moved on to the actual campus of the “Hunan First Normal School.” It was here that things got interesting. Six people along with Dr. Gorn presented to our local school counterparts about three things in American history: the American Revolution, the American Civil War, and Contemporary America. I was in the group discussing the American Revolution. Our local school representatives presented China between 1840 and 1949. They talked about the invasions on China and the struggle of power in post imperial China.
What is interesting about American history and Chinese history is the sheer amount of parallels that can be drawn. For example: the battles of Lexington and Concord where the British chased the rebel leaders across the thirteen states before attacking sounds almost exactly like the events of China’s Long March. It is also intriguing to know that the style of fighting used by the American rebels and the Chinese communist rebels were basically the same–Guerilla Warfare.
I would like to end my post by paraphrasing Thomas Paine: It is in times like this, in times of uncertainty and of the unknown, whether it is in the winter of 1776 or September eleventh 2001, that truly try men’s souls. So ask yourself, what will we make of the future knowing the glories and pitfalls made by people tangible only through history?” — Chris
Imagine having the opportunity to get into the mind of a great leader. In my case, that mind was Mao Zedong’s. We traveled to Orange Island where Mao used to spend time writing poetry. It is obvious to see why he chose this place to write his works. The moment you set foot on the island, you are surrounded by a lush paradise of smells and sights. After taking a relaxing drive down to the coast, where a massive structure of Mao’s head is, we sat down to analyze some of Mao’s poetry. If you listen to his poetry, you can’t even tell that it was written by a political leader. Instead you hear the voice of a great writer whose passion was transcribed through his poems. We ended the day by interviewing some local people about their views of Mao and his work; this of course gave us some interesting insight into how people of China see a past leader.” –Nathan
The poertry session was led by Bryan Munson, who teaches English lit. at Concordia. Our tour guide, Mars, recited Mao’s poetry in Mandarin and the same poem was then read by a student. While we sat on the steps overlooking the river and discussed the difference in cadance from one language to another and the impact on the tone and message of the poem, a crowd formed around us to listen and take pictures of a rather odd group of 14 people (of different nationalities and races), reciting Mao’s poetry. The students then interviewed some of the Chinese tourists/locals on the island, some of whom would later be heard practing poetry recitation! It seems we started a trend. In the evening, our students began working on their own poems and I’m hoping one of them will be willing to share it on this blog. Stay tuned. — CG
P.S. To complete the day, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Munson treated all to Dairy Queen!