Samuel Greggio and Sabrina Marczak headed to Asia in June
School of Health Sciences and Brain Institute professor Dr Samuel Greggio, and School of Technology professor, Dr Sabrina Marczak, are representing PUCRS at the Seminar of Chinese Language and Culture for Brazilians 2018, in Beijing. The seminar is being promoted by the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China from Jun 12 to Jul 12 at the School of Chinese Language and Culture of Beijing. This immersion event features 40 Brazilians from different academic areas and institutions.
PUCRS, was honored with two scholarships from professor Ana Quiao, director of Instituto Confúcio da PUC-Rio and representative of the Chinese Embassy. The award was mediated by the Office of International Cooperation. This is the first time the university is awarded with this type of grant for faculty and researchers.
The program addresses different cultural aspects of China, such as courses on Mandarin, arts (dance, painting, opera) as well as costumes and traditions. Throughout the program, participants will have the chance to visit the main sights of Beijing, such as the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, among others. In addition to visiting the Chinese capital, the last week of the seminar will be devoted to visiting Hangzhou, Wuzhen and Shanghai. They are expected to return to Beijing on a high-speed train.
Experiencing Chinese culture
In Sabrina’s view some classroom habits were quite different from Brazil. “Being punctual in China means arriving five minutes before the commitment. Respect to teachers is also very interesting because they are considered someone special for they dedicate their time to teaching others”, says she.
In Greggio’s view, this experience has got him to deconstruct his views of China. “The culture is very rich in every aspect of it, since it is one of the most ancient civilizations. When it comes to the writing system, the oldest ideogram ever reported dates back to 3,400 years ago”, says he.
Besides, the Chinese are extremely proud of their culture. Sabrina goes on to say that on holidays or on vacations, when people take some time off with their families, it is very common to do art on paper (to show how happy a family is). “We noticed window flowers in the windows of houses and stores, since we arrived there in the middle of the Dragon Boat Festival. This festival is celebrated in honor of the official Qu Yuan, who got drowned after he was banned from the court of the Duke of Chu, more than 2,500 years ago”, says she.
The relationship between kids and parents as well as between students and teachers is marked by respect. Public spaces such as squares, subway stations and sidewalks are very clean and have lots of trees. “We could notice in our outings that the Chinese are very curious about our miscegenation. They hide to take pictures of us or ask to take pictures with us”, says Greggio.
Adaptation in the country
Both professors are staying at the dorms of the School of Chinese Language and Culture of Beijing and have been having the traditional meals. In their view, the dishes that are served there are different from the ones that are served in Chinese restaurants in Brazil. Chili and ginger are the most popular spices.
Access to social media and Google is denied. “A very common practice is the use of VPN (virtual private network) to gain free access to the internet. There is no Uber in China, but Didi. There is no WhatsApp, but WeChat. Both apps work perfectly well”, says Greggio.
The country is also marked by temperatures from 38 to 40 degrees in June and July. Everyone received an anti-UV travel umbrella in order to protect from the sun. “SPF 60 sunscreen was not enough to protect from the sun, so everyone embraced this Asian tradition”, says Sabrina.
Both professors were very excited about this opportunity. “It is a chance to reconstruct the image of China and I have a very good impression. We can interact a lot with people here, either in the academia or at local stores”, says Greggio.
Sabrina goes on to say that they can observe the facts and richness of the culture of that millenium-old country in depth. “Statues are large and grand, as well as the history that comes with them. Demystifying the language through the classes has been a very interesting thing for us to have a general view of language and the culture that comes with it”, says she.