Shanghai International Studies University (China) Interpretation and Innovation: SISU holds 2022 Chinese Culture Summer Program

The 2022 Chinese Culture Summer Program (CCSP) organized by Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) was held from July 11th to 22nd, 2022.

The fortnight’s online program included 10 well-knit lectures, 5 vigorously discussed seminars on China-related topics as well as carefully designed immersion activities, which aimed to help students to have access to first-hand information of the modern Chinese culture and develop their own perspectives on China.  

This year, nearly 30 students from diverse cultural backgrounds participated in the online program. They are recommended by 13 world-renowned universities, including Heidelberg University, University of Bayreuth, Lancaster University, University of Exeter, SOAS University of London, Waseda University, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, University of Naples “L’Orientale”, MGIMO University, Georgetown University in Qatar, Thammasat University, Allameh Tabataba’i University, and Shanghai International Studies University. Together they have enjoyed an exciting and rewarding adventure in Chinese culture.

Lectures and Seminars on Fundamentals of Chinese Culture 

To facilitate students’ active participation and learning experience, the organizing team designed ten tailored lectures covering five modules. Guided by SISU’s veteran teachers who have made meticulous preparation for this long-expected summer program, students gained a better understanding of China, Chinese culture, and how they related to the world.

The lectures concentrated on five major themes: Chinese history, law, literature, art and economics. The history module mainly focused on Chinese  dynasties and the City of Shanghai, looking back upon the historical changes. The lecture on Chinese law introduced Chinese legal thought, internal law and judicial system. Under the topic of Chinese literature, students savoured the beauty of Chinese poems and prose as well as the rise of sci-fi literature.

In the Chinese art module, teachers led young people from all over the world to focus on ancient Chinese calligraphy, music, opera and painting. The economic module analyzed the present situation and prospects of the contemporary Chinese economy. Through a series of informative and enlightening lectures, students at home and abroad obtained a panorama of the Chinese civilization and gained a deeper understanding of Chinese society and culture.

Also, young people from different countries took an active part in seminars on various topics. They either discussed freely, presented in groups, or pondered over the questions raised by teachers. In the literature module, students appreciated Tang and Song poems and shared their understanding and views on famous masterpieces such as The Song of Eternal Sorrow, Travelling Is Hard and Yellow Crane Tower. It is through dialogues that a collision of ideas and thoughts was sparked so that students from diverse cultural backgrounds had the precious chance to experience the similarities and differences across the globe. 

International Youth Forum on Cultural Interpretation and Innovation

The International Youth Forum themed “The Individual and the World: Interpretation and Innovation” was designed to promote intercultural communication between students and encourage them to discuss how young people can understand the world, build connections and make innovations. 

In the Political and Economic Panel, students from the UK, Iran, France, the Philippines, Italy and China discussed the topics of “Political and Economic Mindset behind Brexit”, “Research on the Employment of University Graduates in Iran”, “How a Traditional Enterprise Achieves Self-Transformation and Rural Revitalization through Intangible Cultural Heritage”.

In Humanities and Arts Panel, students presented as “cultural ambassadors” on unique aspects or interesting facts about their own culture. They covered the topics of “The Arts in Greece”, “Traditional and Folk Music in Poland” , “Chinese Ink Wash Painting”, “Chinese Tea Culture”, “The Charm of Chinese Blue and White Porcelain”, “The Modern Chinese Wedding Ceremony”and “Painting——The Window to Understand Chinese and Western Culture”.

In Open Space Panel, students shared their views on “Involution”, “The Olympic Games”, “How ‘Hundred Schools’ Were Integrated into Chinese Philosophy”and“Online Education as a Mean of Intercultural Communication and Cooperation”.

After each session, professors gave their incisive comments.The multicultural exchange provided students with novel cultural experiences and a new perspective to understand the world.

Virtual Field Trip on Chinese Culture

During the two weeks, students were encouraged to conduct virtual field research with their global peers, which also gave them a wonderful opportunity to bring Chinese culture home. The carefully designed immersion activities enabled students to work together and yield fruitful research results.

Topics of the group projects covered a wide range of interests, including “Xu Guangqi and Cultural exchanges between China and Other Countries”, “Seeking the Revival of
the Traditional Chinese Handicrafts”, “Education Matters: 

The Education in China, France, Greece and Poland”, “The Diet and Cuisine in China and Thailand: A Research and Comparison”and “Chinese Etiquette”.

Though separated by gulfs and mountains, students managed to overcome the geographic barriers and different time zones. During the research process, members of each research group developed a sincere friendship and promoted an understanding of each other’s culture and customs.

In the closing ceremony, students of five groups presented their field research findings, and were awarded the Certificate of Achievement for their excellent performance.

The ceremony drew to a close with the group chanting the collaborative poem written by all the participants: “Locked away, we met in the realm of ideas, Our passion and curiosity for China have tied us together, Hope our paths will cross again, Wish to be further connected despite our distance, May light guide our path to wisdom”, which concluded this exciting journey of mutual learning and intercultural friendship. 

An Amazing Journey with Cross-cultural Experience

Students have found this program innovative and inspiring, and expressed their hope to experience Chinese culture physically in the future. 

Giorgia Sgueglia from SOAS, University of London said: “I’ve learned so much about China in many aspects. It has been an amazing, stimulating and interesting experience.”

Natsinee Sangleewarakitt from Thammasat University said: “It’s a great opportunity to learn about China in a different perspective and exchange knowledge with people from other parts of the world and see how they view the world.”

John Carlos Burog from Georgetown University in Qatar commented: “Throughout the past weeks, I really enjoy Chinese Culture Summer Program (CCSP) from SISU. I’m glad to have met all of you from Europe and Asia. How fascinating it must be to communicate with all of you. Even though we’re so far away, we are much connected to each other. I feel like I’ve learned much not only from our lecturers, but from the people, from ourselves, from different cultures and different backgrounds through experience.”

Mohammadamin Alboghobaysh from Allameh Tabataba’i University said: “Chinese Culture Summer Program (CCSP) has made it possible for me to look at China from a Chinese perspective. What impresses me most is Chinese philosophy, which flows in different aspects of Chinese culture and society.”

The Chinese Culture Summer Program (CCSP) was launched by SISU in 2012. Every year, outstanding students recommended by SISU’s global partners would fly to Shanghai and study together with SISU students toward a better understanding of Chinese culture.

In 2022, with the continued impact of COVID-19, the program was held online. Connecting students of different cultural backgrounds, CCSP represents SISU’s Multilingual+ education initiative.

The program has witnessed along students’ journey, their eagerness to engage with the academic content of the lectures, their project development, and their friendship building. Despite the challenges of the time zones and geographic distance, students have been able to create group synergy and constructive spirit amongst their global peers.