Posted on November 19th 2016
CHINA TRIP / Tianjin - October 2016
A Fantastic Journey and Remarkable Multicultural Experience
As part of the exchange and partnership programme that Cranford Community College holds with Tianjin College of Commerce (TCC) in China, on 21st October 2016, a delegation composed of 17 students and 5 staff got on board for a fantastic journey to China. An experience that we could certainly call “a once in a lifetime" kind.
We all met up early morning at Heathrow airport, and after a long flight with a stopover in Helsinki, we finally arrived at Beijing International Airport the very next day. There we were kindly received by the TCC (Tianjin College of Commerce) staff and taken by bus on another long journey to our final destination: the magnificent campus of TCC, located in the modern city of Tianjin, two hours from Beijing.
That night, we were offered a wonderful welcome dinner and, for some of us, this event became our first experience with real Chinese food. A parade of exotic dishes and an uninterrupted service of drinks, including the famous "Mijiu" (rice wine), were accompanied by speeches from each one of our hosts and our own delegation's main representatives. It was a lovely dinner in which frequent toasts were proposed in the name of this exciting multicultural meeting and experience. This was just the opening event of eight days of activities and visits that showed us the greatness of a unique country that is certainly becoming a real superpower.
The next days covered a very busy and hectic agenda starting early morning every day. We were given a campus tour to see the facilities and the modern infrastructure of TCC (Tianjin College of Commerce), and we even attended some lessons in their classrooms and had the chance to share with students and teachers.
When visiting the centre of Tianjin, we went to one of the busiest areas of the town: Golden Street and the Ancient Cultural Street. Later on, we had the chance to visit a big clothing factory that is currently providing the majority of the ZARA clothes that are sold all around the world. This was a unique experience as the owner of the company talked directly to us explaining the production process and how Chinese are determined to achieve high levels of quality in the fashion market. In the near future, we should not be surprised to see their products competing against expensive European brands.
Another great event was the day they took us to visit the amazing "Great Wall"; being able to walk along those ancient stones was an indescribable experience. This visit to one of the seven wonders of the world did not stop us from enjoying another exciting part of history, when they took us back to Beijing in order to spend a whole day visiting the magnificent buildings of the "Forbidden City". The fantastic decoration of ancient art and the magnificent atmosphere surrounding this place was something out of this world. Later that day we explored the famous "Pearl Market" where many of the students and staff could not wait to buy things at astonishing prices, but not without having to bargain for it first, as is the “traditional” and expected way to buy in this sort of market.
On Friday we visited the amazingly huge and modern Cultural Centre of Tianjin and visited the Museum of History where we appreciated some astonishing displays of the history of the city and how it became one of the most important ports and cities in the whole country. On the final day, the students had the chance to share time with some of the students’ families by visiting their home and experiencing home life first hand. The staff were taken to the Tianjin Eye for another exciting afternoon. On this, our last night in China, they offered us a farewell dinner in a nice modern restaurant in Tianjin.
The next morning while still dark and cold, we had to say goodbye to our fantastic hosts. It is difficult to express the feelings when having to leave a place where we have been treated with the most genuine acts of respect and affection. This is a place and a culture with no equals in hospitality. We have to say that the Chinese people have the most impressive attitude of openness and integration toward other cultures. Having to say goodbye to OUR FRIENDS was not an easy task but we did it knowing that someday they would come back to visit us and we would be able to return, somehow, the warm welcome they offered us.
Special mention is deserved for the presence of Mr. Joe Briscoe, a great travelling companion, who came all the way from our partner school in the Isle of Wight (Carisbrooke College) to join us in this fascinating adventure. Joe is a Mandarin Chinese teacher and his attendance on this trip was extremely helpful for all of us., His friendly and supportive attitude was a key to encourage our students to learn Chinese as an added value for their curriculum and future career. So, as valuable support material documenting this great experience, we are sharing here some of his videos about the fascinating world of China’s culture and language.
For all of us, it is now time to raise our small glasses of "Mijiu" and propose a toast to this fabulous partnership between Tianjin College of Commerce and Cranford Community College, and let’s toast as well to keep enhancing this exchange of culture, experiences and emotions. Thanks a lot for the opportunity for having the chance to be part of this remarkable, memorable and unique experience.
(Web Admin & Graphic Designer for CCC)