Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Making new friends and keeping the old

This past Monday, November 21, was a special day at Pace. Several of the friends that we made at Nanjing Normal University this summer visited the Pace--Pleasantville campus. In addition to seeing again the wonderful faculty who were so generous with their time during our visit, people such as Dr. Wu Yidong, Dr. Xu Keqian, Dr. Lin Yipeng and Dr. Tang Huisheng, we met open and interesting new acquaintances such as Dr. Bai Li of the NNU School of Social Development. After a delicious lunch at the Pleasantville Country Club, we met on campus for the Chinese Cultural Seminar. I especially enjoyed the all-too-brief lectures on Contemporary Confucianism by Dr. Xu and on the Dao by Dr. Tang.

I wish that the students in my film theory class had heard the lecture on the Dao, because they would have recognized the seeds of Eisenstein's editing techniques--dialectics--in this brief look at Daoism.

My one regret, other than the brevity of the time we spent together, is that I was unable to go to the NYC campus to hear the lectures from Bai Li and Dr. Ni Yannian. I was especially curious about Dr. Bai's lecture on Contemporary Chinese Muslims after she told me that the form of my surname in Chinese (ma - tone 3) would have indicated in China that I might be Muslim, since surnames of many Muslims begin with the "ma" sound of "Muhammed." I should remember that! Anyway, I am sorry to have missed those no doubt fascinating lectures.

Thank you to our Pace Confucius Institute, as well as Nanjing Normal University, PPMG and Hanban for making this cultural exchange possible. And may it continue! I offer special thanks here, also, to Dr. Weihua Niu, Dr. Zhou Yanyu (Xie Xie, laoshi!), and Dr. Zhu Min and their program assistants for this enjoyable and enlightening afternoon.

Meryl Streep and Joel Coen discuss filmmaking with young Chinese