Last days in China!

Today (Friday 19 July) was the last day of the SYSU ISP – we all handed in our papers and had our language exams. In the evening, we all attended the closing ceremony and farewell party that was organised by the program managers and buddies. We all got a taste of Gangnam Style as performed by the Korean contingent, zither playing by a Taiwanese participant, and ‘Home among the Gumtrees’, performed by a couple of the remaining Aussies – which everyone took no time at all to get into; soon the whole room was acting out gumtrees and kangaroos like they were their own national emblems.

Speeches were made by the SYSU Director of International Cooperation and then by the Program Organiser, “Coco” Zheng Weiling. Something that Coco said that really resounded with me went something along the lines of: “July is the harvest season in Guangzhou; likewise, I hope that the last three weeks have proved fruitful for each and all of you.”

This really brought the program into a different focus for me; yes it has been fun, yes it has been interesting, and yes it has been challenging. But it has also been immensely valuable; it has been hugely worthwhile. I struggle to think of any other experience that would have enriched and developed me personally as this trip has done. Experiencing something of equal breadth and depth over the course of three weeks back home in Sydney is completely unimaginable.

That is unique benefit of international programs like this: not the language classes, the itinerary of fieldtrips or the prepared cultural experiences, but the synergy of the setting and the sum of each of these parts. It is this combination that has allowed me to becoming a greater person while undertaking the SYSU ISP, and experiences here that it has entailed.

And so, I’ll leave you with a photo: it’s of the central pagoda at Sun Yat-sen University, dedicated to commemorating a student (their name is the two characters adorning the threshold) who graduated some decades ago. I think to myself now, what could I do that’s worthy of commemorating? As a student at UTS, as a resident in Sydney, or bigger still, as a representative of Australia? What can I do for my community that will be worth remembering?

P.S.: on the topic of commemorative structures, the second picture is of Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, which I visited last week here in the middle of Guangzhou – and yes, that is a giant statute of Dr Sun Yat-sen.

P.P.S.: I realise that so far my blog posts have been for the very start and the very end of my program – sorry about that! It’s been a busy trip, but I’ll be sorting through some of my photos over the next few days, so keep your eyes out for some retrospective blogs about some of the particulars of the program and my time here in Guangzhou.

Rob, Sun Yat Sen University Summer Program 2013

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