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Research tour helps American students learn more about China

(Xinhua)

09:45, September 01, 2011

NANJING, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Standing in the drizzling rain in the square of the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, Nina Montgomery, an undergraduate from Dartmouth College, could hardly hold back her tears.

"It is one thing to hear stories, another to really see them," she said.

Though it was her first time to visit China, Montgomery had heard a lot of stories about Japanese soldiers' heinous actions in China before as her grandpa grew up in Jiangsu and had worked as a missionary in the coastal province for many years. He had even been put under house arrest by the Japanese for two years.

Curious about the place where her grandpa had once lived, Montgomery jumped at the chance when the All-China Youth Federation started an exchange program to pair Chinese and American university students to research into economic, social and cultural issues in China.

After finishing applying, Montgomery along with Brian Matthew Delgado from the University of Pennsylvania, Kirsten Ling, who had just graduated from Yale University, and several other Chinese students formed a group to begin researching into the cultural industry and environmental protection in Jiangsu.

Their first stop was the province's capital city of Nanjing, where over 300,000 Chinese were killed by the Japanese troops during World War II. Standing near the site where thousands of bodies were buried, their eyes welled up in tears.

"It's tough, I mean that kind of suffering, it's worldwide, it goes beyond individual culture, it's really terrible," Delgado, who had only learned scratchy details about the tragedy from history books, told Xinhua.

In addition to the famous cultural sites in the city, the group visited local towns and governments to learn about the development of alternative energy and cultural industries.

After visiting Yongning Town where they were shown how fermentation technologies turned animal waste and plant husks into methane, Delgado said he was impressed with what he saw.

"I think the new environmental sustainability program here is great, it allows farmers to be self-sufficient and not be dependent on large-scale refineries and plants to make energy," he said.

Meanwhile, they were also quick to discover the differences in the way people get things done between the two countries.

Ling said in America, more cultural industry companies are private, but in China there seems to be more support from the government for the cultural industry though they have very similar goals.

"It's been nice to see the differences, but also the similarities," she said.

For them, everything has felt fresh and interesting: eating dumplings with vinegar, the bizarre collections of English movie posters in the coffee shop, and cars painted depicting Hello-kitty dolls.

While sitting in the taxi touring the city, their eyes were busy catching weird "Chinglish" translations: "Sweet Love Restaurant," "Officelady Clothes," "Sexy Land"...

"It's been a very nice experience to see different cultures from America, and everyone has been very friendly," Ling said.


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