Museum Trip and Summer Camp

Trip Start May 05, 2012
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Trip End Mar 01, 2013


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What I did
Tianjin Museum

Flag of China  , Tianjin,
Wednesday, July 4, 2012

On Tuesday morning instead of having a Chinese class like we usually do, we went with our teacher on a field trip to the museum. Though this was the kind of awesome field trip where you don't have to study or learn anything so I suppose it was really just a trip to the museum.

We arrived at the Tianjin Cultural Precinct at 10am and meet up with Chris. We trekked over to the museum and managed to get a look at all the other buildings and attractions that make up the Cultural Precinct. As usual with anything in China it was all HUGE! The pics don't really do it justice but trust us the Theatre, Art Museum and the yet to be confirmed building across the lake are all massive! And yes it has a lake, a huge lake, like any self respecting tourist attraction should have in this seaside/river city!

The museum itself has only been open for a few weeks and so far only 3 of the 5 floors are open and displaying exhibits.

On the first floor you have the history of the Tianjin region form the Stone Age up until about the 16th century. It was really cool to see the evidence of continued occupation of the same land area that we are living in at the moment. That sort of history is something that NZ simply does not have. Having Chris as our guide was cool as he could explain the importance of most of the exhibits (he is also a History Major as well as being a Languages Major) though he did go a little fast through this first bit. I think we will have to head back for a better look sometime.

The second floor houses "a selection of rare and valuables artefacts" (or something to that effect). These were the more traditional parchments, paintings, calligraphy, carvings and other odds and sods that make up most museum collections. These were all interesting but did not all directly relate to Tianjin like the first and third floors did. Still interesting and beautiful though.

The third floor is where it got really interesting. The exhibition is named "Tianjin: An epitome of the last 100 years." This floor is dedicated to explaining the effects of the various political and cultural events that have shaped China over the past 100+ years with a focus on Tianjin. It starts with the Opium War and the British "invading China under the guise of free trade" and gets darker and darker from there. I had no idea of the appalling acts that the British and other Allied countries (such as France, America, Germany, Russia and Italy) committed on the Chinese. They basically fronted an all out invasion at the turn of the 20th Century on a China that was still practically 100+ years behind in terms of technology (thanks to their non-participation in the industrial revolution). From this point on until the end of the cultural revolution China was more or less continually embroiled in conflict (both internal and external) and chaos! It certainly makes it easy to understand how and why the Communist party was able to grow and become so powerful in China. It also had some more cheerful aspects such as beginning an education system for all (including girls), and cultural/educational exchanges that fostered knowledge such as engineering and led to the first Chinese designed/built train tracks, and the first folding bridge to be built in China (We have actually crossed this bridge a couple of times without realising its historical significance.  While it no longer "folds" it is still used for road traffic). 
The third floor's history lesson was very interesting and ran all they way up until the triumphant victory of the Communists in Tianjin, circa late 1940s. The exhibit ends abruptly here and Steph and I were left wondering "Haven't they missed out a good 50-60 years of further turmoil and destruction?". But that's the way it is in China and it will be along time before that chapter of local history is displayed to the public.

Starting form next week our schools are running summer camps at all our centres. This means that the kids come in Mon-Fri and spend all day form 8am-5pm with us learning English! The kids just finished school last Fri and now they get to come to us in a weeks time for more... school. I do not envy these kids. For us as foreign teachers it means that we have an extra class to teach in the afternoons on Weds-Fri. It shouldn't be too bad though as being the third, and final class of the day, it is designed to be mostly revision and games built around the content taught in the morning. Hopefully it should be fun and more emphasis on the games side than the revision.
We shall see.
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