Thursday, June 21, 2012

Beijing 2012 - Day 3 (Tian'an men Square)

We had our first formal classroom meeting today. The first hour was dedicated to discussions about Chinese language and culture (aided by Crystal, one of our on-site facilitators). Afterward we 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 tasty lunch, courtesy of our Communication University of China hosts, 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. We wandered for a while, enjoying the many opportunities to snap photos with Chinese tourists who seemed amazed by our group - especially some of our particularly tall students. We also forged an impromptu classroom on that vast stage, working to connect our readings to the realities of this place. 

Of course we also enjoyed a more lighthearted entertainment when we traveled to see an acrobatics show. Now that SJSU students are becoming masters of the Beijing metro, getting there proved to be half the fun. 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 packed ourselves onto one the most crowded metro cars we've ever seen, only to discover that it'd started to rain. Departing that steamy station, walking (sometimes running) through the downpour, we made our way back to the hotel. Some of us stayed up for an extra hour, tackling questions about forthcoming assignments until, at last, we could rest for the night.

Day 2 | Day 4

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