Impressionen aus China

Impressions from China

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Group foto in front of the Wuhan school
(click for larger image)

These pages are dedicated to our hosts of the School for the Blind in Wuhan, who showed us their wonderful school, city and culture.
From left: Two principals, Tan Shu Ya, Tanja, me, Huang Haiping, the principal Mr. Jiang

Diese Seiten sind unseren Gastgebern von der Blindenschule in  Wuhan gewidmet, die uns ihre wunderbare Schule, ihre Stadt und ihre Kultur gezeigt haben.
Von links: Zwei Mitglieder der Schulleitung, Tan Shu Ya, Tanja, ich, Huang Haiping, the principal Mr. Jiang


From 12th to 26th of March 2002 I went to visit the cities of Beijing and Wuhan in China. I was travelling with a group of 9 students from the University of Hamburg, a professor and his assitant. We were to visit schools for the blind in China and learn about their equipment and their ways of teaching. This was needed as preparation for a training on visual impairment and low vision that Prof. Sven Degenhardt is going to offer for chinese teachers. We stayed in Beijing for the first 5 days, then split up into teams of two to visit schools in Qingdao, Taiyuan, Shenyang, Wuhan and Beijing itself. After another five days, we met again in Beijing.

click for larger image We stayed at the guesthouse of Beijing Normal University. Beijing has several universities and this one, among other things, has a faculty of educational sciences. The picture showes a typical street close to the Campus.
On the first evening in China we were invited to dinner at the Friendship Restaurant of the university. A chinese student who spoke some english joined us to explain about the intricacies of chinese food and chopsticks. She took a photo of our group with my camera and I showed it to her on the display, as you see here.

For more pictures on chinese food, go here.

On the next day we visited the only (!) publisher of books in Braille in China (maybe Shanghai has one, too, but that's it). Of course, they also distribute books by Mao.

(For more info on Braille, go to the American Foundation for the Blind)

The publishing house is situated in Wanping, a small town not far out of Beijing. The place is known for the "Marco Polo Bridge Incident", a shooting between chinese and japanese soldiers took place here in 1937. It is said to have caused China to enter the second world war.

The town is enclosed by a city wall. We took a walk on it and got a nice view over Wanping. The one-story houses, complete with patio and curved roof, looked decidedly more "chinese" than the skyscrapers of the city. They reminded me of the movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon".
After that, we went to the nearby "Marco-Polo-Bridge". The bridge has 485 lions sitting on its supporting pillars, each carved in a different fashion.

As you can see in the last picture, the riverbed was dry. There was also a lot of dust in the air, and a cold, dry wind was blowing. I asked our chinese guide about that and he told me this was typical for the Beijing weather in March: "Wind from Siberia, dust from the Gobi desert."

The next day, we went to see Great Wall at Badaling, which this is the most popular spot for tourists. It's usually crowded, but that day it was so cold and windy that we could actually walk without being pushed around by the masses. The walk on the wall up and down the steep hills had us sweating soon enough...

We couldn't see very far due to the dusty air, so the view wasn't spectacular, but standing there was a great feeling anyway. It made me realize how far from home I had travelled, picturing myself standing there on one edge of the Eurasia landmass and Germany situated on the other.

The Forbidden City is really huge and can be called a city of its own. I remembered the major yard from "The last emperor", but it looks bigger if you actually stand there. Sven (the professor), who had been there before, told us that the small yards off the beaten track were really worth seeing. He was right - it was there where I really got an idea on how life might have been 100 years ago. Those were the places where concubines and servants had lived.
But my most cherished memories relate to the plants. We came around a corner and I actually gasped at the sight of a magnificent magnolia tree in full bloom. And on the north end there was a beautiful little park with bushes and flowers. When we left Germany, there was still little green to be seen and the grey city of Beijing hadn't been much different.

We took a rest in the park and I sat down on a fence. A chinese family came by and their cute little boy gaped at me blond, long-nosed creature. A moment later they had him sit next to me and took a picture! Then the boy ran back to his parents. They smiled gratefully and spoke to him. He turned back, he called "Bye-bye" and waved. I still smile as I write this down... Too bad I don't have a picture of it.

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