Amaz­ing race win­ner vis­its Ji­nan

Hastings Leader - - News -

It was back to the class­room for Iona Col­lege’s Caitlin Thomas re­cently), al­beit in Ji­nan, China. The win­ner of this year’s Amaz­ing China Face Race is in Shan­dong Prov­ince, start­ing her win­ner’s trip in the prov­ince’s cap­i­tal city Ji­nan; pop­u­la­tion seven mil­lion.

The first three days of the trip were a whirl­wind of cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences, with vis­its to the Shan­dong Art In­sti­tute, the Shan­dong Mu­seum, Shan­dong Art Mu­seum, and the Nis­han Academy at Shan­dong Li­brary.

The academy is one of 150 across Shan­dong where univer­sity stu­dents go to study Con­fu­cian­ism, the prin­ci­ples and eti­quette for life set down by renowned philoso­pher and first scholar Con­fu­cius more than 2000 years ago.

The phi­los­o­phy is rooted in benev­o­lence, hu­man­ity and moral prin­ci­ples. As well as moral train­ing, tra­di­tional arts are also taught at the academy and li­brary, in­clud­ing archery, zither play­ing, and wood block print­ing.

Fif­teen-year-old Caitlin tried play­ing the zither and took a close-up look at the an­cient print­ing style. On what was a very rainy day, it was too wet to try out archery.

“The zither was the most fun but the most im­pres­sive was the wood carv­ing, the in­tri­cacy of it and that they are work­ing so hard to keep up the tra­di­tion of it,” Caitlin said.

“The zither seems to have sim­i­lar­i­ties to the gui­tar and the pi­ano. The notes were quite sim­i­lar and frets were well marked. I think with a bit more prac­tice I could work the frets out and play some­thing sim­ple.”

Also fo­cused on the preser­va­tion of tra­di­tional art is The Vil­lage of 100 Flow­ers, a replica vil­lage de­pict­ing life as it would have been for lo­cals some 200-300 years ago.

Built by Ji­nan’s tourism de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee, the tra­di­tional two-storey homes are set by a spring-fed wa­ter­way, shaded by a large wil­low tree. It re­flects that there would have been “a spring stream by ev­ery home, and a wil­low tree by ev­ery door”.

Mak­ing the best use of the in­door space to­day, each set of rooms is de­voted to a slice of lo­cal his­tory or a craft: mak­ing tofu by hand, books and cal­lig­ra­phy, the pol­i­tics of the day, mu­sic, house­hold ap­pli­ances and hor­ti­cul­tural im­ple­ments. In both the academy and the vil­lage, free com­mu­nity classes are run in all the dis­ci­plines, to en­cour­age res­i­dents to learn them.

At the vil­lage, Caitlin tried her hand with the grinder used in tofu-mak­ing and cal­lig­ra­phy, and left her im­pres­sions of her visit so far in a vis­i­tors’ book in ex­change for a post­card de­pict­ing Ji­nan un­der a win­ter cov­er­ing of snow.

“The build­ings were beau­ti­ful; they seemed old even though they are repli­cas. It gives you a win­dow into how China was, and maybe is a bit like I thought China might be.”

Her visit to Ji­nan also in­cluded vis­its to parks and springs, many set in large tracts of green spa­ces in the heart of the city.

“I re­ally liked the Dam­ing Lake. It’s in an 84 hectare park in the heart of the city, which has the li­brary and academy in it. There are so many of the rounded style beau­ti­fully dec­o­rated bridges you think of when you think of Chi­nese bridges.

“I also liked the wil­lows and green­ery, and how well-used it is with peo­ple do­ing tai chi or just sit­ting; it’s re­ally the gen­eral at­mos­phere of the park.”

The prize for win­ning the 2018 Amaz­ing China Face Race is an all-ex­penses paid guided trip through Shan­dong, fo­cused on learn­ing about the cul­ture and his­tory of the re­gion. Her next stop is a coastal city, Yan­tai, where she will spend time on Yan­tai Moun­tain. She will then go on to Qing­dao, where she will visit May Fourth Square and spend a day ex­plor­ing Mt Lao.

The trip has been funded by the Chi­nese Cul­tural Cen­tre in New Zealand and hosted by the For­eign Af­fairs Divi­sion of the Shan­don Pro­vin­cial De­part­ment of Cul­ture.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.