“Beautiful Women and Talented Scholars”

On June 5, 2013, in Activities, by Catharine Steffens

By Jackson Dangremond ’14 “Beautiful Women and Talented Scholars” In all things there are differences. The differences may be bold and vivid, while others might be dull and subtle. But the differences surrounding life in Shanghai and Tongli are obvious. Over the past weekend I was fortunate enough to visit Shanghai and Tongli with my host family. When I arrived in Shanghai the skyline amazed me. It is lined with an innumerable amount of skyscrapers. The city itself feels so modern and so western that at some points I felt as if I was back home in the United States. But that was not the case in Tongli. Tongli is a small silk village in the Tongli River Province of Shanghai. This village is home to many old imperial gardens that are over eight hundred years old. It felt like I was stepping through a time machine there. Everything was very traditional, even the transportation; each destination was reached by a small wooden boat. The contrasts between each could be best symbolized by the tour guides description of Tongli; “Beautiful Women and Talented Scholars.” I found this to be quite the contrast because of the qualities each entail. The “Beautiful Women” aspect holds the aesthetic characteristics often found in Shanghai. While “Talented Scholars” hold true to the tradition and way of thinking found in Tongli. The aesthetics of Shanghai are found in the: buildings, malls, and the people. In Tongli, tradition is found in: old restaurants, transportation, and the people. People play an important part in the formation of culture; I learned things from each side. The differences found on each side represent two different sides present in myself. On one hand there is a strong desire for luxury and material items. But on the other hand there is the desire to learn from the old and to retain knowledge from those that have walked through life before me. Regardless of the difference or desire, it is up to me to start walking.

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