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China Program 2012 – Week 1 – By Professor Tiefenbrun

May 28, 2012

Dr. Chen Ke, Esq., Professor Susan Tiefenbrun, and Judge John Walker

I am delighted to report that our first week of the 3-week China International Law Study Abroad Program in Hangzhou, China has been very successful. We have 58 American students from 3 different law schools in the United States and 17 Chinese students from Zhejiang University Guanghua School of Law, all studying international and comparative law subjects together with 4 American law professors and 4 Chinese law professors. Students report that all five courses are going well, and they very much appreciate the high level of class discussion and learning. Classes are held from 8:30 am to 12:20 pm, and students are free every afternoon to do good site seeing in beautiful Westlake, which is across the street from our 4-star hotel. Breakfast is sumptuous and provides us with the time and place to talk to each other over a good meal. We travel to law school together by bus, where we all chat and discuss class material and other law-related and cultural, political, or social issues involving us, China and the world, and international law.

The day after we all arrived in Hangzhou, we went on a fun trip around Hangzhou and visited the oldest Buddhist temple in China, the Linyin Temple, whose monumental interior statues take your breath away. We were all in awe! The visit to a real tea plantation and view of the Chinese tea ceremony was a great introduction to a new and different culture. We then visited the Six Harmonies Pagoda for a real escape into the past and into the world of ancient China and its traditions. This weekend almost all of us went to Shanghai together and had a really good, event-packed time, led by an expert guide,  whom I have known for 6 years. 

We took the “fast train” to Shanghai, visited the biggest Chinese law firm in Shanghai, and heard an inspiring presentation by James Lin, one of the founding partners of that firm. The managing partner, Dr. Chen Ke, will visit our program on Monday June 3, after we all return from Beijing. In Shanghai we had a delicious dinner at a local restaurant and saw an unbelievable Acrobat Show that everyone said was better than Cirque du Soleil! The next day we visited the magnificent combination of green and stone and water in the famous Yuyuan Garden and residential mansion. Chinese gardens are absolutely beautiful and places of artistic harmony and peacefulness. Then we went to the amazing Shanghai museum where we luxuriated in ancient and modern Chinese paintings, bronze sculptures, porcelain through the ages, and Chinese furniture. For me, this was the highlight of the Shanghai trip, and I have visited this museum 8 times in my life. From there we went shopping in Taobao City (i.e. the “Fake Market”) where we learned and honed our skills at negotiating the deal! At night we all took a romantic cruise on the Huangpu River seeing all of Shanghai, the new and the old, lit up like a giant Christmas tree all around us. Overwhelming! We visited the French Concession and other examples of the international and cosmopolitan nature of extraordinary Shanghai! The next day we went up to the highest building in Shanghai (the Shanghai World Financial Center) for a superb panorama of the city. We went to a local food market and had lunch at the modest home of a Shanghai resident. She prepared more than 20 delicious dishes for us to eat. What a day it was!

Now we are back in Hangzhou ready to begin the second week of our China Program. This is a truly wonderful group of students who seem eager to learn all about the Chinese language, history, art, culture, legal system,  and politics. They are intellectually curious and immersed in international law in a foreign world. This is good, really good.   
More to come next week.
Professor Susan Tiefenbrun
Director, China Study Abroad Program