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CPC100 - Speak up for China


17 June 2021 | By Luo Xiangquan | Copyedited by Xu Shijie

  • The Jinggang Mountains

  • Edgar Snow(1905-1972)

I

’m now standing on the ground on which a man named Edgar Snow had always dreamed of setting foot. Snow was an American journalist who traveled to China in 1936 and spent four months with the Red Amy and its leader Mao Zedong, who told him about the great significance of the Jinggang Mountains in the revolutionary struggle in China.

In 1937, Snow published a book telling of those days and of his observations of the Communists, as a way of telling people in the West what was going on in China at a time when knowledge of the country was extremely limited. The book was a bestseller in London, with more than 100,000 copies sold in just a few weeks, and was still much sought after following three more print runs.

The thing is that just as Snow never did go to those hallowed Jinggang Mountains, almost 50 years after he died his mission of trying to get the West to understand China remains unfinished.

I learnt that harsh truth two years ago when I took part in an international summer program in the Netherlands. There I met students from all over the world and was surprised to find out how little they knew about China. My roommate, from North Carolina, did not know what China’s capital city is and could name only one of the country’s cities, Shanghai. By contrast, I knew enough about the United States to be able to point out on a map where he came from. In some ways that experience changed me: from being preoccupied with learning things, I started to want to explain China to non-Chinese so our voice could be better heard and understood.

English public speaking allows me to do just that, and I would like to think that I do it with a certain degree of eloquence. Once after an English-speaking competition a foreign judge told me, “Among all the contestants, you’re the one I can really identify with, because you present broad ideas in an easily understood way.” From that I learned how important it is to put oneself in the shoes of non-Chinese. It’s better to show rather than tell, to influence rather than to preach. Only in this way, little by little, can our voices reach farther.

Snow did an amazing job in trying to bring China and the rest of the world closer together. It is up to Chinese – especially young people – to carry on that task in any way we can.

At college I have encountered many like-minded people who have decided to go global as they show and influence. I know of a Chinese student who was studying Spanish in Mexico when a huge earthquake struck. Without hesitation he joined the international rescue team and threw himself into relief operations. That helped him to become part of the local community, empathizing with them in many ways despite their cultural differences.

Then there is the case of the Chinese student studying Portuguese in Portugal when COVID-19 broke out last year. She was angered by the vitriol aimed at China from some quarters at the time, and rather than ignore it, she did something concrete: she wrote an opinion piece for one of Portugal’s leading newspapers imploring people to be rational in the way they treat any area touched by the virus.

In multinational corporations or in journalistic work, through diplomatic activities or at large-scale conferences, those with language skills can play a crucial role in pulling down communication barriers and facilitating collaboration.

I know young people everywhere are drawing on empathy, tolerance and love so that we all connect better with one another. For me, I have dedicated myself to empowering more students with what I have learnt from intercultural communication and making it easier for them to tell our great stories and share our culture with the world.

By doing this kind of thing, like Edgar Snow we will have done our bit in contributing to a world in which countries know more about one another and so that individuals know each other better too.

 

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Press Contact

SISU News Center, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Tel : +86 (21) 3537 2378

Email : news@shisu.edu.cn

Address :550 Dalian Road (W), Shanghai 200083, China

Further Reading