J-week ended for me on Thursday afternoon, April 16, when the Advisory Committee met for two hours to hear reports from faculty and have barbecue and enjoy a concert by Big T’s Blues band in front of the Overby Center.
I was up the next morning about 3 am and left the house at 3:30 for a 6 am Chicago-bound flight out of Memphis. From O’Hare, I was to take a United Airlines flight to Beijing a little before 1 pm. I was traveling from Chicago with Susan Shaw, executive director of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.
Our more than 13-hour flight took us almost over the North Pole before traveling south over Siberia to the capital of China. We landed a little before 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Beijing time – 13 hours ahead of Oxford’s Daylight Saving Time.
The hotel provided a driver who took us to our hotel in the Chao Yang District. Within minutes after we checked in, Wendy Yin met us and took us to dinner. She is associate professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Political Science and Law. Professor Shaw had met her when she had been in the United States for a year of study at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
Professor Shaw and I had breakfast with Nancy Zhao, a senior at Tsinghua University. Ms. Zhao is being considered for a graduate program at Northwestern University, and I was recruiting her for Ole Miss.
After our conversation about graduate school, we visited the Dirt Market, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. I think it may be useful to offer some detail on each.
Tiananmen Square is at the center of Beijing City. Tiananmen Tower, The Long March Sculpture, the Monument to the People’s Heroes, the Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, the Great Hall of the People and the China National Museum are there:
- Tiananmen Tower, at the north end of the square was built in 1417 during the Ming Dynasty. It was used to announce each new emperor and empress. Until 1911 only the royal family and aristocrats could enter the tower.
- The Long March Sculpture memorializes the soldiers, 90 percent of whom died, in the Long March that began in October 1934 and continued for a year. It covered more than 6,000 miles, in which 80,000 soldiers of the Red Army fled from Jiangxi province in south China and headed north. Those who survived established a new Communist base in Yan’an.
- At the center of the Tiananmen Square is the granite Monument to the People’s Heroes. It showcases unusually large relief sculptures that show the development of Chinese modern history. The monument memorializes those who died in the people’s struggles during the 19th and 20th centuries. It is situated to the north of Mao Zedong’s mausoleum on the southern edge of Tiananmen Square. On the pedestal are eight huge carvings portraying revolutionary events: Burning opium in the Opium War, 1840; The Jintian village uprising, 1851; Wuchang uprising, 1911; May 4th movement, 1919; May 30 movement, 1925; Nanchang uprising, 1927. War of resistance against Japan, 1931 through 1945; Crossing the Yangtze River, 1949. On the front of the monument is an inscription written by Mao: “Eternal glory to the people’s heroes!” On the back is a message drafted by Mao and written by Zhou Enlai.
- The Memorial Hall of Chairman Mao Zedung is at the south side of the Square near the site of the former Zhonghuamen Gate. Mao’s body lies in a crystal coffin in the Hall of Mourning. He died in 1976.
- West of the Square is the Great Hall of the People where the China National People’s Congress meets. It has an auditorium that seats 9,700 and a huge Banquet Hall.
- The China National Museum, on the east side of the square, is a Chinese History Museum and a Chinese Revolutionary Museum. The Chinese History Museum shows a large number of cultural relics, illustrating the long history of China from 1,700,000 years ago to 1921.
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