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San Francisco university students portray real China with documentary

(Xinhua)    10:58, July 01, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO, June 30 (Xinhua) -- A field trip to an ancient Chinese town has completely changed the stereotyped impression of China held by a group of American students and gave them an opportunity to understand what a real China is, a veteran film director said here Sunday.

Last year, a group of 18 students from the School of Cinema of San Francisco State University (SFSU) made a three-week, life-changing journey to Huizhou of eastern China's Anhui Province, to shoot a documentary about China with the first-hand information they collected locally, Duffy Wang, a film director and president of San Francisco-based company D3 Productions, Inc., told Xinhua in an interview.

He said the students' first trip to China quickly broke down some misconceptions they previously had, such as China as a backward country or an unsafe place, which they learned from U.S. media reports.

"The American media are really misleading and one-sided in many of their reports about China," Wang concluded from the feedback he got from the students following the trip.

The SFSU students visited local people in Huizhou, explored art studios, opera houses and health centers, and learned the traditions of the art of tea drinking observed by Huizhou people.

They also delved deep into the families of migrant workers who went to other places in China to make a better living while leaving behind their young kids to their grandparents.

The students then produced a two-hour, four-part documentary on the unique lifestyle of the locals -- a man who worked hard to preserve his family-inherited business of wonton food specialty, an eighth-generation successor of the craftsmanship of the Feng Shui compass, and a family of left-behind children who defied various difficulties to stay healthy physically and mentally while living with their grandparents.

The documentary was screened during a preview session in the San Francisco Public Library Saturday afternoon.

"Before those students went to China, they had no idea of what China is like, but this project let them develop a brand-new vision about China and the Chinese people. That's the value of this show," said Wang.

Ernie Calderon, one of the eldest member of the student group, said he learned a lot from his China trip, particularly the adaptivity to work with other people and deal with different problems that are going to pop up.

"You are in a foreign land, you don't know the language, you don't know the culture, you don't know the rules. So you have to show the amount of adaptivity to keep your ideas intact while working around many different problems," he said.

"That's a very important lesson that I think I'm going to take away from here to the rest of my film career," said Calderon, who graduated from the SFSU and continued to pursue his Master and PhD degrees at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Joe Barnett, another member of the student group and a director of one of the four parts of the documentary, said all the stereotypes he had about China were dispelled right away after he landed in Beijing and Shanghai, the two most important metropolises in China.

"When you landed there, you will notice that the architecture is really nice and it's as modern or even more modern than the United States in some ways," he said.

"Unlike what I was told beforehand that some people in China might be rude or unwelcoming to foreigners, I found that's not true whatsoever, and everyone's super nice and wants to talk to you," he recalled.

He said what impressed him most were the Chinese ancient towns and how they were built.

"You could be in a really nice area and then just an hour away is (a) completely different part with a whole different type of history. That diversity is amazing. In China, you are experiencing all kinds of new architecture, new history, new food, everything like that," Barnett noted.

"You're never gonna experience some of these cultures without many times of travel to that country, and if you go there and actually experience it, that's something that you'll cherish forever," he said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liu Ning, Bianji)

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