From June 25 to 30, MID 2013 class formed a summer field trip team including 5 students and 2 faculty and staff to observe and study Gansu’s “Silk Road” development. The trip was led by Associate Dean, Ms. MENG Bo. Gansu province used to be the golden zone and transport hub along the Silk Road and was also the intersection of four cultural systems in the world. In order to provide MID students the opportunity to gain a better understanding of China’s western development in terms of the economy, agriculture, poverty alleviation, education, public health, this trip targeted Lanzhou, Zhangye and Minle town on the theme of Gansu “Silk Road” development. It was the first time that MID program organized a field trip to the Silk Road since the program was established in 2007.
On June 26 and 27, the team visited Lanzhou. As the capital of Gansu Province and an important city in western China, Lanzhou used to be a strategic place along the Silk Road already in the past. Nowadays, it leads the development of the entire Gansu province. With the support and assistance of the Tsinghua University Gansu Alumni Association, the MID team first visited Lanzhou Folk and Custom Museum in order to get to know local culture and history. In the following, the team learnt about grass root governance during a visit of one of Chengguan District’s Sub-district offices, as well as about innovative poverty reduction policies during a meeting with the Provincial Poverty Alleviation Office. In addition, it studied disaster and crisis management experience of the provincial Seismological Bureau and met with the CPPCC’s Policy Research Office to understand the whole province’s development from a macro perspective. The study of an abundance of subjects during these visits allowed the MID students to gain an in-depth understanding of Gansu’s development characteristics, their achievements and remaining challenges. On each site, the MID students raised many relevant questions that combined their course knowledge with their observations. Their engagement in a deep communication with the local governments and visited units impressed the visited local policy makers very much.
In the morning of June 28, the MID team arrived in Zhangye by night train from Lanzhou. Zhangye is at located at the Hexi Corridor and used to be one of the Silk Road’s famous highlights, as it constituted the bridge that connects Asia and Europe. Notwithstanding the travel exhaustion, the MID team directly visited Zhangye Middle School in order to teach the high school students English, as well as to answer their many questions regarding the study and life in Tsinghua and MID students’ home countries. Thereafter, the team visited the Zhangye Wetland Museum and Conservation Park. The park visualized the efforts for sustainable urban planning, achievements of environmental protection and the development of a local tourism industry according to local conditions. The complementary study of Zhangye’s unique development model was of added value to the MID participants.
In the afternoon of June 28, the MID team continued its trip to Minle town. WANG Guangqing, SPPM alumnus, ’08 PhD graduate and now Minle’s Deputy County Head, received the whole team warmly. In the following one and half days, the team visited a village primary school, a local clinic, farms, as well as a local urban community, with the aim to understand Minle’s developments in terms of education, public health, agriculture and grass root governance. Additionally, the MID students were invited to an informal meeting with students of the Minle No.1 Middle School. The faculty, staff and MID students introduced Tsinghua University and SPPM to the local students and encouraged them to consider the application to Tsinghua University. The visit was concluded with friendly football match between the MID and local students.
The summer field trip was part of MID program’s China Development: Field Trip Series course. The design and organization of the Gansu “Silk Road” field trip took more than 3 months. However its success could only be achieved with the support of Tsinghua Gansu Alumni Association and SPPM Gansu alumni. This trip along the “Silk Road” left the MID students with a deep impression about the vitality of Gansu Province in the context of China’s western development. At the same time, all visited sites spoke highly of Tsinghua’s international students who they got to know through their deep exchange with the MID participants.