Impressions from Geneva IR Student Trip to China, Part II

| May 24, 2011
Photo by Alexandre Vautravers

The 8000-strong, 2000-year-old "Terracotta Army" discovered in Xi'an in 1974

Last week Alexandre Vautravers, head of Geneva’s International Relations program, shared photos and student impressions from Geneva IR students’ field trip to China. Below are a few more excerpts of observations and reflections from students who took this eye-opening trip.

Student Zoran Lalvani, on a visit to the “Terracotta Army” — the “8th Wonder of the World”:

These figures date from approximately 810 B.C. during the period of the Qin Dynasty and were built on the orders of the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty. They were discovered in1974 by farmers who were digging a water well. The farmer who made this discovery is still alive today and may be seen in the museum.

Photos and paintings do not do justice to the sheer size and grandeur of the imposing army. Seeing it first hand was an incredible experience, the figures are extremely imposing and one gets a feel for the style of workmanship that existed at that time.

The Terracotta Army also serves as a window into the past. One was able to learn about military formations of the time and how they contributed to and facilitated defence and conquering of enemy armies.

A very interesting finding in the tomb of the Emperor was that the swords and other weapons were found to be coated in Chromium Oxide, effectively making them rust resistant. The weapons remain sharp despite having been underground for almost 2000years. This technique did not reach Europe until the 18th century providing an eye opening account of how advanced the Chinese were.

Student Lily Aurovillian, on the relationship between media and the Chinese government:

The past events in Eastern European countries as well as the current revolutionary events in the Middle East raise serious concerns for China, and the need for greater political stability is perceived as key to stabilization, as [former journalist and current professor] Mr. Yinhuang reminded, the Chinese public is supportive of the government policies (up to 80 percent); but he also mentioned that there was a growing disparity between the rich and the poor.

He expressed confidence for China’s stability in the near future, however the future remained unpredictable. If the disparity between the rich and poor continues to grow, the growing masses representing the 80 percent support for the government will also decline. The media might be most challenged if people begin to express their discontent. Will transparency, trust of the people that the government wishes to gain, a credibility on the global scale in the making continue to progress?

Student Luana Bermudez, on the Forbidden City:

The Forbidden City is a perfect example of the power and grandiosity of China’s empire. It was created in the Ming Dynasty and used as the imperial palace until the end of the Qing Dynasty.  It is now a state-owned museum and it is definitely one of the most impressive places I have been to.

While waiting in the immense line to buy the ticket, watching the street salesmen take advantage of the strong sun and warm weather to sell drinks and ice cream to the restless tourists, there was no way to imagine what was waiting for us on the other side of the gate. It is a city within a city. I am sure it is possible to spend a whole week visiting the Forbidden City to actually be able to visit every single part of it.

While walking through the galleries, looking at the golden bricks and the traditional Chinese architecture, what went through my head was everything that I read in history books and learned in history classes, however I was having the chance to actually be at the place where everything happened. I also thought about how life was different outside the Forbidden City, because at the same time that there was all of that wealth inside of those walls, the reality outside of the walls was very different.

Photo by Alexandre Vautravers

Category: International & U.S. Campuses, Student Affairs and News

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  1. The museum for the Terracotta Army in Xian is really a fascinating place to visit.  I actually went to the museum on 9/11 then returned to the hotel to watch CNN and contact family to make sure all were fine. It made for an emotional and surreal visit and one I will never forget.  I am pleased these students were able to experience this trip – one always learns so much on these study trips abroad – congrats to the faculty!