Victory?

Please note that we have had to be careful about our wording and refrain from mentioning certain events (we do not want to cause any trouble for the school that could come from the monitoring of the internet here, but I will be more open once I am back in the States, so stay tuned.)  Here is Chris again to wrap up our last day:

“Hello again. My name is Chris and I come from Hong Kong. On September 28th, the Mao’s Revolution interim group went to a place east of Yan’an city known as Yang Jia Ling. There, under heavy rain, we visited the caves where the leaders of the communist revolution in China stayed. In truth, the caves were in the same style of our own cave hotel albeit less luxurious. For example, Mao Ze Dong stayed in a series of four caves, one was his room that contained a bed and two chairs and another was his office with a desk, chair and maps. (Editor’s note: the Red Army ended its Long March in 1935 in Ya’An where they remained until 1947 directing the civil war against the nationalists.  They literally built homes into the mountainside, resembling cave-like dwellings.  Our group stayed in a “cave motel” constructed in a similar manner but with indoor plumbing and television—the extent of what Chris describes as “luxurious.”)

We then went to a museum in Yan’an related to the Chinese civil war and the Anti-Japanese war. The exhibits that were most interesting to me were the guns. I was fascinated by the fact that China’s military at that time was so backward. Some of the guns were primitive matchlock rifles that had no trigger.

We then went to see the reenactment of the battle for Yan’an. As it was a reenactment, it was done with real props, real people, and even real explosions. When the Kuomintang (KMT) artillery shelled the area, the shells would land in the water and send up a plume of water approximately 50 feet high! The story of the battle began with the communist occupation. It then progressed when an enormous Nationalist force took the city by storm and the Communists where forced into strategic retreat. With the Nationalist controlling an empty city, the Communists snuck around the city unbeknownst to the KMT and waited for a striking opportunity. Finally, the Communists with their pitifully small force overtook the Nationalists who had tanks, artillery, and advanced weapons.

Later in the afternoon, we watched a movie on one of China’s recent tragedies. It was interesting to learn that most of Mao’s close friends and fellow revolutionaries died for opposing him. What they could have done in the days of the revolution was simply not possible in the new China.

An hour later, we went to the first university set up in the new China–Yan’an university(延安大学). There, we were paired up with the students who were studying English. Our purpose there was to allow them to learn how to apply their knowledge of the English language while we asked them questions regarding the Yan’an spirit and the face of new China.

I felt that our time following the footsteps of the Chinese revolution was a fascinating and challenging experience that really dragged us away from our comfort zones. Before the trip I knew next to nothing about Mao’s policies and personality. Now, I have a firm and concise understanding about the man who created the solid ground that supports the growing skyscraper of 21st century  China.”  –Chris

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Victory?

  1. Tonia

    Thank you Chris for your post. I am so amazed to see how a 7days interim trip enable you to understanding so much more about the history of Mao’s revolution. I enjoy reading all the articles that you and your fellow friends posted in here.

  2. JMOLJ

    Wow! Staying in cave motels, that sounds . . . interesting. It is fascinating to hear this controversial history from students who are actually getting to visit and talk to locals about their views. From the west, we get a very different version of events, but I imagine that our perspective is skewed by past Cold War tensions and current anxieties about the increasing power of China. What amazing opportunities for students and Cathy to get to experience all this first hand!

  3. Renee McClendon

    Talk about a ‘small world’! Cathy, I have a student, of Chinese heritage, from Starkville, Mississippi, who may be studying a part of the Chinese Cultural Revolution for NHD this year. Her family is traveling to China in December. Do you think it would be possible for her to communicate with one of the students who have had this amazing experience they have written about?

  4. It is stunning to me that you have this opportunity to actually touch history. I’m sure you must examine the historiography of the stories presented by the government-run museum versus western texts. I am curious to learn of the distinctions between the multiple viewpoints.

    • Noah

      thanks ccarter333 for that last line of thought ( I am curious to learn of the distinctions between the multiple viewpoints.), I too and curious about that.

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