A trip to Quanzhou City, WISE & SOE International Master Program

WISE 2012 Annual Field Trip -- Quanzhou

November 25 marked the 2012 annual field trip for international students at Wang Yanan Institute for Studies in Economics, this time to the famed coastal city of Quanzhou in Fujian Province. Over forty students and faculty attended the one-day trip held shortly after the end of midterms, representing countries from North America, Europe, East and Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The itinerary for the trip included exciting visits to the Quanzhou Maritime Museum, Qingjing Mosque, Quanzhou Museum and Kaiyuan Temple.

The first destination of the day was the specialty museum for Quanzhou's maritime history, the Quanzhou Maritime Museum. Built in 1959, the museum covers two floors and provides a detailed history of ship-building and voyage in China, as well as focusing on Quanzhou's importance as a key sea port. The students were especially captivated by the hundreds of model ships, delicately crafted from wood and accurately scaled down in size.

The Qingjing Mosque, also known as the Ashab Mosque, is the oldest mosque erected in China and dates back to the year 1009. Quanzhou, as one of the earliest and key ports of foreign trade in China, attracted many Arab traders. The mosque was built as a sign of friendship and cultural exchange between China and the Arab countries, encouraging trade and immigration due to the perceived freedom of religious practice in the city. The mosque covers over 2500 square meters and has been reconstructed over time. A stone tablet located near the gate of to the mosque records the edict of Zhu Di, third emperor of the Ming Dynasty, to protect the Qingjing Mosque and Islam in China. One of the exhibits inside the mosque details the introduction of Islam to Quanzhou and the spread of Islam in China, both in text and in a vivid photographic display.

Lunch was held after the visit to Qingjing Mosque. Considering the large number of Muslim international students this year, the restaurant especially catered to the needs of both Muslim and non-Muslim students. Both groups were served an appetizing selection of meat and vegetable stir-fries, fish, egg and tofu soup, and seafood soup.

Following lunch, the trip resumed at the Quanzhou Museum. Spanning several floors, the museum enriched students with a history of the close cultural, economic and political relationship between Taiwan and Fujian Province. The moving documentaries, life-size sculptures and thousands of relics kept students entertained as they perused the museum at their own leisure.

The final destination of the trip was the Kaiyuan Temple. Built in the year 686 during the reign of Empress Wu Zetian, Kaiyuan Temple is the largest Buddhist temple in Fujian Province. Due to the influence of Christianity, Islam and even Hinduism in Quanzhou, the temple features borrowings from non-Buddhist religions, such as the engravings of angels in the temple and sculptures of Hindu gods. Among the highlights of the temple are the imposing Zhenguo and Renshou towers, some of the tallest stone pillars in China, and the numerous courtyards and gardens. Students were given the opportunity to take a walk around the towers for good luck and longevity, and also to witness the daily prayers of resident monks. Quanzhou's local population is largely Buddhist, so the visit had particular significance to students that wanted to understand more about the cultural influences in Quanzhou.

The return trip was merry as awards were announced for the highest academic achievements and noteworthy community service of second year international students. As students were rewarded with two final local songs by the tour guide, they could only wonder where the destination for next year's WISE annual field trip would be, and what new exciting discoveries would be made.

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