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The First Week of the 2013 China Program by Professor Susan Tiefenbrun

May 28, 2013

Professor Tiefenbrun in China
2013 China Program Group (Photo by TJSL student Ian Seruelo)
Hangzhou Tour (Photo by TJSL student Ian Seruelo)
First Day (Photo by TJSL student Ian Seruelo)
Orientation (Photo by TJSL student Ian Seruelo)

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Staff of TJSL:

It is hard to believe that this is the end of the first exciting week of our China Study Abroad Program in Hangzhou, China. We are 56 American students and 21 Chinese students all attending the 5 superb courses we offer, and all enjoying each other’s company after classes. The 9 professors (Dean Rudy Hasl, Judge Pierre Leval, Professors Susan Tiefenbrun, Aaron Schwabach and Claire Wright, Professors Qian Hongdao, Yongxin Song, Leslie Wang and Zhao Jun) all participate actively and enthusiastically in the program.

We are all having a great time, getting to know each other well, traveling to Xian to see the 2000 year old Terra Cotta Warriors together, eating meals together, biking and hiking together, eating dinner together and discovering the beautiful sights and  hidden secrets of West Lake just across the street from the four-star hotel, Ramada Plaza Haihua Hotel, where we all stay and gather for chats, plan making, and excursions before and after classes everyday. We all take the shuttle bus together to and from Zhejiang University Guanghua School of Law Monday through Friday, after eating a delicious and hearty breakfast that we all love!

This week has been very successful. On the first day we went on a half-day tour of Hangzhou, took a cruise on West Lake, visited the world wonder Linyin Temple, and saw a tea ceremony at Dragon Well Tea plantation. Monday we had a fact-filled Orientation. Everyday we are getting to know the Chinese students better, and they invite us to dinner and to walk in the park with them and their friends. We are experiencing Chinese school cafeteria food and  trying Chinese food in restaurants. We are learning international law together with Chinese students and Chinese professors who live with the Chinese legal system and obey the Chinese laws.

22 of us including Dean Hasl and Judge Pierre Leval are traveling  together to Xian this weekend,  and it is an amazing trip. We are at a 5-star hotel. Yesterday we saw  the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses that were buried in 247 BC more than 2000 years ago, and this site is overwhelming for all of us. Last night we saw a beautiful Tang dynasty (600-900 AD) show in a supper club. The show was absolutely magnificent: exquisite costumes, authentic and ancient Chinese instruments, gorgeous and colorful costumes,  exotic dancing from that period, orchestral music, good singing, copious food and drink for a supper-club  dinner.

We are all immersing together in this rich and complex culture with great joy and lingering appreciation. Aaron Schwabach (whose Chinese is already proficient) and I are taking Chinese lessons. What could be better? Students are getting to know Judge Pierre Leval and his fantastic wife, Susanna, and we are all developing a great affection and admiration for each other. I am particularly impressed with these students who clearly are interested in Chinese history, art, culture, food, and the law. Some students went to Hong Kong, and during the week others went to Shanghai.

Next week we have three guest speakers and on Thursday all of us are going to Beijing to visit, by invitation only,  the Chinese Beijing Supreme Court! We are having a wonderful time, and the intimacy and really deep learning created by this program can not be matched. More to come next week when Judge Pierre Leval delivers his public lecture and teaches three classes in the International Business Transactions course (covering the Kiobel and Morrison Supreme Court cases). We will keep you all posted. My thanks to this amazing group of students and professors here in China. You and you alone are making this great stuff happen!

Professor Susan Tiefenbrun

Director of China Study Abroad Program