The rich tapestry of sights, sounds, smells and experiences that is China captivated students Tom Freudenthal and Lance Whitehill during their recent visit to Shenzhen and Hong Kong with Professor Peter Temple.
Prof. Temple was exploring possibilities for cooperative and exchange programs with 4 universities (Shenzhen University, Harbin Institute of Technology, Hong Kong Polytechnic and University of Hong Kong,) as well as internships with architectural design, engineering, and building technology firms.
Shenzhen is the Chinese city designated as “Art and Design”. From a small fishing village it has been the fastest growing city in the world since its opening in the late 1970’s. The population has doubled in the last 6 months to 14 million people. As you can imagine there are building job opportunities everywhere.
Tom and Lance stayed in a dorm at Harbin Institute of Technology in Shenzhen. This campus of Harbin offers graduate programs in both architecture and engineering. “We found that the HIT Masters of Architecture program could work as a graduate school option for KSC graduates. Although most students and faculty speak Chinese in their informal conversation, the classes, powerpoint presentations, and design critiques are all in English,” said Prof. Temple.
It was the students’ first trip outside the U.S. except for the Caribbean for Tom. They took the opportunity to encounter every new experience they could over the week that they were there. Food was one area that fascinated them.
“The food was excellent,” said Lance. “Very spicy, nothing sweet. Not much meat.” One thing they noticed was that no cold drinks are served. If you order water you get a cup of hot water. “Our Chinese guide told us this is because they consider it unhealthy to cool down the core of your body,” said Tom.
Another big difference is that one person orders food for everyone and the food is delivered to the center of the table and all eat from the center dishes. Tom was on a mission to find a fruit that he had heard of called Durian.
They found some in a market and brought it back to the dorm room. It proved to be so odiferous that it earned a place on the balcony for the rest of their stay.
Lance became very fond of a fruit called longan or Dragon’s eyes. He also ate chicken feet.
Longon or Dragon's Eye
While jet lag was a problem with 13 hours of flight and 24 hours travel time to get there, both Lance and Tom would recommend getting to China for a visit if you possibly can.
Prof. Temple adds, “Perhaps the most transformative experience we can provide for our students during their entire undergraduate career is to arrange for them to spend at least a semester in another culture. Many students go to Western Europe, or Australia. But the opportunity to experience a very different culture, such as in Asia, can have a much greater impact on their overall awareness and perspectives.”
Some of the student’s fine photos of places they visited are available in the KSC China trip interactive map.