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US Students Better Understand China Through Field Trips

Every year a group of American college students come to China during the summer vacation to observe and study it and the Chinese language.

More than 70 college students from the key universities in the United States came to China this summer.

"Family-style parties are often held in Chinese companies to create a warm and harmonious working atmosphere, but western companies focus more on employees' working efficiency" said Michelle Lim, a Harvard student after a detailed study of Chinese companies.

"This shows that China's logo of equality, solidarity and mutual cooperation is actually rooted in Chinese tradition," she said.

The First Annual American College Students Research Symposium was held at Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) yesterday afternoon to give them an opportunity to voice their opinions based on their study.

Those students from American universities have improved much in their Chinese, and now they are able to administer surveys in the Chinese language, said Feng Shengli from Chinese Department of Harvard University, adding that it is of great significance for American young scholars to have a deep and unbiased view toward China.

The growing global Chinese language fever fascinates many students to know much about China through various channels, but they are still surprised by exploring the real China, often challenging their prejudices about this ancient country.

Another Harvard student, Carol Yu, has changed her mind about China's exam-oriented education after interviewing many Chinese students. She said examination is the only and relatively fair measure to assess students in China, so the current Chinese educational system is reasonable.

Seiji Shirane, an American student of Japanese origin, compared Japanese textbooks with Chinese ones. "The Japanese textbooks are not objective especially about the aggression into China 60 years ago, and they distort the historical facts. Chinese textbooks are subjective too, for the heroes depicted in the books are perfect with little defects," he said.

"American students went to governmental departments, companies, universities or even Chinese families to gather first-hand information. Their reports are profound reflections of the authentic China," said Liao Haoxiang, a teacher from the Chinese Department of Harvard university.

Oren Sivan has lived in a Chinese family for a few months. He said "I not only learn Chinese from my Chinese 'Mum' and Chinese 'brother', but also learn the traditional Chinese culture from them."

After their re-discovery of China, their reports in Chinese reveal their own thoughts, showing that they have changed their biases, said Cui Xiliang, president of BLCU.

"Only if the young people from China and America have the common aspiration to know each other, will there be no gap for us to bridge," added Cui.

(Xinhua News Agency August 9, 2005)

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