Twenty Tokyo University students joined the 20 field-study teams of the Nanjing University students enrolled in the new elective course “Cultural Representations.”
Although these Chinese and Japanese students major in a wide range of subjects, they focused on “Home” as the theme and, guided by teachers of the two universities, held visits and interviews in Nanjing’s downtown neighborhoods from March 6 to 19.
In the afternoons of March 10 and 17, the teams held two report sessions to share their experiences with each other and with the leaders of Nanjing University’s Teaching Affairs Office and School of Foreign Studies.
The field studies, called “innovation practice” and focused on Cultural Representations, had two phases, each having 10 student teams.
Each team consisted of one student from the University of Tokyo, one NJU student from the Japanese Department, and one NJU student from another department.
In the week-long practice, each team chose a neighborhood for close observation and study and selected the interviewees from the neighborhood.
The team members worked closely together, and their working language was Chinese, English, and Japanese.
At the report session, Shao Jin, director of the teaching affairs office, extended his welcome to the students from the University of Tokyo and highly praised the performance of the students from the two universities in their field studies.
This international practice course, he noted, enabled students from the two universities to gain a unique and in-depth understanding of Nanjing and nurture close friendship between students, and such friendship will facilitate the growth of the Sino-Japanese friendship and peaceful coexistence in the future.
Wang Jinghua, Party secretary of the School of Foreign Studies, shared her thoughts on the theme of the course “Home” and its importance in East Asian cultures.
“Home is the source of power for everyone,” she said. “We may leave our hometown, but home always offers us support.”
She hoped that the students would reflect on their experience gained in the field studies.
She also shared her own experience of “getting to know” Nanjing when she entered Nanjing University.
At the report session, the students showed pictures and shared their experiences and thoughts of the field studies in Chinese, English or Japanese.
Over the two weeks of practice, they learned some methods of field study and explored the city of Nanjing from various angles.
Over the two weeks, deep friendship grew between the NJU students and their counterparts from the University of Tokyo.
On the streets of Nanjing, the UTokyo students, whether those who once lived in China or those who came for the first time, chatted with friendly Nanjing residents and observed their daily life.
They learned the profound history of the ancient city and the reality of contemporary China and experienced the warmth and inclusiveness of Nanjing, a city with rich cultural heritage.
The NJU students said that the exchange with the Japanese students enabled them to learn about Japan and Japanese people at close range.
At the same time, during the field study, they gained new knowledge of Nanjing, which they were already familiar with, and they also gained a deeper understanding of the concept of "Home."
In each spring semester, the university will offer the innovation practice course “Cultural Representations” in cooperation with the University of Tokyo.
The course, an interdisciplinary elective available to all students, is aimed, through international exchanges and cooperation, to cultivate in students the ability for innovative thinking and international vision and the understanding of various cultures in the world.
In March next year, students from the two universities will conduct such collaborative research on a new theme.
(School of Foreign Studies, the Teaching Affairs Office, and the Office of International Cooperation and Exchanges)