Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Students are also buzzing about forthcoming plans. Believe it or not, a few are even planning to spend the weekend in Hong Kong. And some are hoping to dedicate our upcoming four-day weekend (July 5-8) to a Shanghai excursion. It's an amazing thing, isn't it?... how a place as seemingly distant as China can become open and inviting once folks take that all-important first step. "Getting there" is half the struggle. Cross that frontier and then just about anything seems possible.
Tomorrow we're taking some time away from classroom study, traveling together to hike a section of the Great Wall. So far the weather prediction calls for rain, but we're hoping for a little luck. None of us have seen more than a smidgen of blue sky during this entire trip, yet we've all managed to find lots of time to explore this amazing place, despite overcast and drizzling days. We are therefore cautiously optimistic about tomorrow. After our Great Wall morning, we're visiting the Summer Palace in the afternoon before spending our evening at the Peking Opera.
What's the most common reaction to this trip so far? Here it is: "Our class is going by so fast!"
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Yesterday, we began our classroom exploration of Walter Benjamin's flaneur gaze, and students departed with informal assignments to practice this form of writing that drifts between contemplation and distraction. Today, students presented their results, reading brief essays aloud. It's a fascinating thing indeed to hear Beijing conveyed through such varied bits and pieces of experience and perception.
Balancing intellectually challenging classroom conversations with physically demanding city exploration, this course has thus far proven to be both exciting and exhausting. Many of us celebrated getting this far yesterday with a long lunch at our group's new favorite restaurant - an Italian place near our hotel called "I do." There we chatted and laughed about our adventures, and we looked forward to what happens next.
Friday, June 22, 2012
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Of course we also enjoyed a more lighthearted entertainment when we traveled to see an awesome acrobatics show. As usual, getting there proved to be half the fun. Fortunately, SJSU students are becoming masters of the Beijing metro; we even arrived early enough to grab some Starbucks before the show! We're all enjoying the complex and varied Chinese diet, but it's nice to return to the comforts of "home" too. The show was terrific, with astounding feats of physical strength and dexterity balanced by goofy humor and audience interaction.
Finally we made our way back in some of the most crowded subway cars we've ever seen, only to discover that it'd started to rain. Walking (sometimes running) through the downpour, we made our way back to the hotel. Some of us chatted for about an hour about forthcoming assignments until, at last, we could celebrate the end of another fine day in China.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Wifi problems mean that this blog may not be frequently updated, but SJSU is having a great time in China. Today we took a tour of campus before exploring the Beijing subway. We're all massively jet lagged, but spirits remain high. Tomorrow we'll have our first class!
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Monday, June 18, 2012
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Tomorrow we're flying to Beijing to begin a three-week Communication and Culture course. Over the next few weeks we will examine culture as a constellation of ideas, texts, objects, performances, and environments that reflect practices of power. Our primary perspective on culture is modernity, with China comprising our central site of analysis. Assuming a power-as-hegemonic approach, but also keenly aware of the potential for resistance and pleasure in even the most totalizing environments, we'll study modern Chinese culture – paying particular attention to urban life in Beijing – as a site of communication through which the modern project is affirmed, challenged, and transformed.