The Meek School of Journalism and New Media

The University of Mississippi

Trip to China

Posted on: April 30th, 2010 by alysia

The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City was the palace for 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties.  Construction of the grand palace was completed in 1420.  Because the emperor was viewed as the son of Heaven, the residence on earth was built as a replica of the Purple Palace where God was thought to live in Heaven.  Thus, it was considered to be a divine place where ordinary people were forbidden.

It has 90 palaces and courtyards, 980 buildings and 8,704 rooms.  To represent the supreme power of the emperor, and because the place where he lived was the center of the world, all the gates, palace and other structures of the Forbidden City were arranged on the south-north central axis of Beijing.

The outer court has three main buildings.  These halls were where the emperors attended grand ceremonies and conducted state affairs. The Hall of Supreme Harmony is the most important and largest structure in the Forbidden City.  The emperors’ Dragon Throne is in this hall.  Behind the Hall of Supreme Harmony is the Hall of Central Harmony — the resting place of the emperor before presiding over grand events in the Hall of Supreme Harmony.  Emperors would rehearse their speeches and presentations here before departing to the Temple of Heaven.  The last hall is the Hall of the Preserving Harmony — used for banquets and later for imperial examinations.

Outside the Hall of the Preserving Harmony is a block of marble carved with cloud and dragon designs.  The Gate of Heavenly Peace is the main gateway to the inner living court.  The first building, the Palace of Heavenly Peace, is where the emperors slept.   The Palace of Union and Peace, where the imperial seals were stored, is behind it, and the third building is the Hall of Terrestrial Tranquility — the emperors’ wedding room.   Farther north is the Imperial Garden.  On the left side of the inner court is the Mental Cultivation Hall.  From the time of the third emperor, all eight Qing emperors lived in this building.  The palaces on the eastern and western side, are former residences of concubines.  These have been converted into exhibition halls.

The main exit gate of the Forbidden City is the Gate of Divine Might.  It is behind the Imperial Garden.

Nancy Zhao and I toured part of the Forbidden City, but I was beginning to show fatigue from the long flight the previous day, and we returned to finish up our tour of Tiananmen Square.

The Pearl Market

Monday Professor Shaw and I went to the Pearl Market and the Silk Market with members of several airline crews.  To a western observer, these are unusual places — thousands of booths or stores from which hawkers shout as you walk by, and thousands of items that are very similar.  It is difficult to know what to buy and from whom to buy it.  However, we were with persons who knew the shop owners and knew who they could trust.  So we made a few, tentative purchases.  We certainly did not bargain.  We trusted our friends were getting a good buy for us.

Director YU Zhenwei and Dean Xin Shu

Tuesday at noon we met with Dr. YU Zhenwei, Director of the School of Journalism at Fudan University, Dr. Xin Shu, Dean of the School of Communication at Hong Kong Baptist University, and Professor Yin, our host at dinner on Saturday night.

Professor Shaw, Director Yu, Dean Xin and I discussed accreditation and the interest of Fudan and Hong Kong Baptist in having professors visit their campuses.  These are two upbeat and intellectually aggressive men whose enthusiasm is contagious. They talked about their curricula, their facilities and the high quality of their students.  It was quite a discussion that made me reach and try to grasp their concepts.

Fudan University in Shanghai is one of the more prestigious universities in China.  It was founded in 1905, shortly before the end of China’s imperial Qing dynasty.  The name comes from a famous statement, meaning unremitting effort.  Fudan University has nearly 44,300 students and my friends told me it probably is the third best university in China.  The Fudan School of Journalism has more than 1,100 students.  A large number of outstanding Chinese media professionals have studied at the school.  It has nearly 10,000 alumni.  In fact, more than 1,500 guests celebrated the School of Journalism’s 80th anniversary last October.

Hong Kong Baptist University was founded in 1956 as Hong Kong Baptist College with the American Baptists.  It became Hong Kong Baptist University in 1994.  Journalism was the first major offered by the Department of Communication when it was established in 1968.  It became a department within the School of Communication in 1991.  Many alumni of the department are leaders in Hong Kong media.  In addition to conducting academic research, faculty are active in journalism and related professional areas.

Celia Pan

After lunch we left for a meeting with Celia Pan, an alumna of Ole Miss who was awarded a broadcast journalism degree.  She worked diligently with professors such as Ralph Braseth and Charles Raterie and was accepted into the graduate program in documentaries at Stanford University.   In addition to documentary work she has been employed by Yahoo and, until recently, she was the country marketing head for Google in China.

Ms. Pan provided us with insights on differences between Chinese and American cultures.  She married Lao Lang who “is generally considered to be the pioneering icon of Chinese campus folk music.”  The music “reminds listeners of a romantic and idealistic period of their lives.”  Lang gained overnight fame in China when he performed the nation’s first campus ballad, “My Deskmate You.”

He was born Wang Yang, but got the nickname Lao Lang, meaning “old wolf,” during his college days when his rock band compared his wild singing style to  howling like a wolf.  However, his voice is reported to be deep and mellow.  In recent years, he is reported to have a new style of folk- rock.

Ms. Pan was with us for an hour and a half before leading a workshop for an organization in Beijing.  The next day she was to fly to Madrid with her husband.

When in Spain she wrote me that she and her husband were “Miro-blogging about their trip at: http://t.sina.com.cn/1670301037/.  Both the whole TV crew and the Spanish travel bureau were amazed by how much the blog helped more people know about their action and about Spain.”

Cheng Yue

I had met Chang Yue, Executive Editor of the News Commentary Department of China Central Television, when he visited the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I sent an e-mail to him before my trip to China, and he took us to dinner at a traditional Chinese Restaurant.  It was a Hot Bowl dinner that we enjoyed immensely.

During the three hours we were with him he told us of the interviews he had in recent years and of the way the news operation at CCTV covered the nation.  We talked about recent presidential campaigns and the challenges facing the American people in trying to understand other cultures and the values that drive other governments.

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