Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thursday, June 21

Today marked our first formal classroom meeting. The first hour was dedicated to discussions about Chinese language and culture (aided by one of our on-site facilitators, Crystal). We then tackled our first assigned reading, an excerpt from Michel Foucault's analysis of panopticism that would frame our afternoon excursion. At noon we enjoyed a wonderful lunch, courtesy of our hosts here at the Communication University of China, before putting our classroom conversations into context by visiting Tian'an men Square.

SJSU students took hundreds of pictures and were generally amazed by the vastness of the place. Our group wandered for a while, enjoying the many opportunities to take pictures with Chinese tourists who seemed amazed by our group (especially some of our particularly tall students!). We also shared a few impromptu moments connecting our reading to some of the realities of this place. The rest of the day buzzed with continued conversation that connected theory and practice.

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.

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