Cultural Field Trip for the Summer Joint Institute Students!

On June 23rd, the UM-SJTU Joint Institute summer program students were treated to a very special experience, a culture field trip in Shanghai! Organized by Sa Weiqi, the Professor for the JI Chinese Culture course, the field trip consisted of two parts. In the morning the students took the metro into downtown Shanghai to a professional cooking workshop, where they were able to pick two dishes to prepare by themselves.  Among the choices were Kungpao Chicken, sweet and sour pork and Weever fish with tomato sauce.   The students were walked through all of the cooking steps by the professional chefs, from prepping the vegetables to cooking the food.  After the meal was prepared, everyone sat down to eat and talk about their experience cooking food most of them never had before.

After everyone had a chance to let their meals settle, the students made their way to the second stop of their field trip, a Guzheng studio! Before being introduced to the music and instrument, the hosts at the studio treated the students to a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, where everyone was able to sample different types of black tea, and learn about the origins of this practice and how it is used to calm the musicians before a performance. Guzheng is an ancient Chinese string instrument, and the students were lucky enough to each get their own  miniature version to learn a few songs on.  The professional musicians in the studios were a great help, and before long everyone was playing “Mary had a Little Lamb” and a traditional Chinese piece called “___”.  In the midst of this, some students even got to try on traditional clothing worn by Guzheng musicians even if it wasn’t completely gender accurate.  Once the students were done trying their hand at the challenging practice, the instructors took their breath away with an amazing performance that left many in awe of the beauty of the music and the skill of the musicians.  As the students said their goodbyes on got back on the metro, they we’re all left with an enriching experience that would stay with them for years to come.

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