My writing this trip will be relatively sparse, for I am staying in a wireless-less room. : ) As Father noted, our hosts, Fathers Anton and Ribeiro, have been spectacularly thoughtful, and our trip has helped us understand how we might partner further with the Beijing Center to accelerate and broaden learning in our Loyola Programs.
The Beijing Center, here in the University of International Business & Economics campus, is indeed a sight to behold. Father Linnane covered the main points, so I will only add that the works of art within the Center are of major-museum quality, yet one is able to get close to and even handle some of them. This renders the works symbolic not only of China's past, and people and events associated with it, but also the ways in which the Beijing Center brings about academic quality via "hands on" learning. Another example is more direct: each semester, students engage in an immersion (travel) experience, with each assigned a distinct research topic for presentation during the trip and a paper that is due following the trip's conclusion. These are only small examples of a program that has been tuned over the years for maximal intellectual engagement. Not only is the program sound, academically, but the price is good, too: living here ends up being a bargain for students, who can subsist on just a few dollars per day (even less than ten), and they can get rid of car insurance for a semester!
The campus is surrounded by interesting commerce, including many superb restaurants. A subway (station) is within walking distance, as is a lovely park that runs parallel to a canal (and vestiges of a City wall!).
I have to keep this post short because we are going tomorrow to the Great Wall and to the Summer Palace. Tomorrow evening, we have Mass and dinner with our students. Though Fathers Anton and Ribeiro have explained all one may ever want to know about the program, Beijing, and the student experience, the students will have plenty more to disclose from the inside!
Enjoy and See you again soon,
PS: Here is a cloud of pictures from today.
I like this one because it gives you a sense of how mountainous Hong Kong is. As you can tell from other pictures, Beijing is as flat as Toledo—my home town.
This is not your normal tourist picture, but it gives you a sense of how some of commerce takes place here. Hong Kong's beach area featured rows of these.
Father spoke about how terrific our guides have been. They work with students on the various excursion trips; we benefitted from their expertise and their warm care. Here Chen, mentioned in Father's blog, allows Father to contemplate the heavenly beauty of the subway system. He noted frequently the glass doors that protect travelers from falling onto the tracks. The subways themselves offer smooth, swift, quiet transport—and for cheap!
So often, when we travel abroad, we see configurations of color that would not necessarily be accepted (or attempted!) back home. I thought this one was of such a type.
Fathers Anton and Linnane are with a statue of Matteo Ricci, an influential Jesuit scientist, mathematician, and cartologist Jesuit who visited China in the sixteenth century. This was outside of the South Cathedral, at which we attended Mass this morning. It was packed!
I like this one for many reasons. It is the same players as above (Matteo included), but, now, with the Church visible. The Church's architecture contrasts with all that surrounds it.
The number of bicycles outside the "Dirt Market" was…plenty!
Had you smelled these vendor-roasted yams, you, too, would have bought them!
Father Anton and Chen lean out here to rein in a cab. I like the shot because it illustrates a small example of their thoughtful nature (this was outside the market—Father Anton brought the backpack in case anybody purchased anything). It also gives a sense of the many styles of conveyance in Beijing.