The Society is visiting two Chinese universities in Shanghai and Nanjing as well as two of the tallest buildings in the world from Friday 28 August to Sunday 6 September.
The 35 students range from first year to postgraduate. All are members of the UJ Civil Engineering Student Society. The students, who have been studying Mandarin at the UJ Confucius Institute for the last five months, will have many opportunities to test their new-found language skills during the tour. Five staff members will mentor the group.
Their plan is to visit Tongji University’s Jiading and Siping Campuses in Shanghai. Then they take the bullet train to Nanjing, visiting the Nanjing Technical University (NTU), as well as a Zen Dai Corporation construction site in the city. The tour includes visits to several cultural landmarks.
Shanghai has 20 million people and is considered the economic and technological centre of China. Nanjing has 8 million people and prides itself on its historical buildings. NTU specializes in Engineering, with 30,000 students enrolled at two campuses.
“We are visiting the BRICS countries during our annual excursion,” says Mr Deon Kruger, mentor for the UJ Civil Engineering Student Society and lecturer at the Department of Civil Engineering Science. Two years ago we went to Brazil, last year to Russia. This year the UJ Confucius Institute offered assistance to visit China and we decided to visit the country this year.”
“During our BRICS visits the visit students can compare what we have in South Africa with what they see in these countries as global ‘engineering citizens’. An example is our planned visit to the Zen Dai Corporation in Nanjing and several of their construction sites. Zen Dai Corporation is the company selected to build a new mega-city at Modderfontein near Johannesburg in a year or two.
“The idea is for UJ students to interact with Zen Dai staff, since they are coming to Johannesburg with a major construction project which can create many job opportunities. In preparation for this visit, the students have been on conversational Mandarin courses at the UJ Confucius Institute for the last five months.
“In Shanghai, we’ll visit the super-modern Financial Centre, one of the tallest buildings in the world, which has the highest observation deck in the world…with a glass floor. We’ve been told this is the third-highest building in the world, which just happens to be right next to the second-highest building in the world.
“In that city, pedestrians and traffic don’t move around on the same horizontal level. A lot of vehicle traffic has been moved underground. They also have a fantastic underground commuter rail system. We’ll be visiting these features of the city, and then taking the bullet train from Shanghai to Nanjing,” says Mr Kruger.
During the visit, the UJ students need to communicate with Chinese students, taking a different culture with a different language into account.
Says Prof Lyu Jiangao, Co-Director at the UJ Confucius Institute (UJ CI): “This program is a good opportunity to encourage cooperation between engineering professions in China and SA. We arranged for the team to visit Shanghai Tongji University and the Nanjing Technical University, as well as meeting with the deans of the Faculty of Engineering in the two universities and to visit the universities’ laboratories and visit construction sites in Nanjing. For the past few months we gave the team free training in the Chinese language Mandarin and culture in preparation for the visit.
“The UJ students can benefit from seeing with their own eyes, a different culture and a new China. The visit to the construction sites may be helpful to their study. Also, they can make new friends and improve the Chinese language ability and the cross-cultural communication ability. Meanwhile their hosts can find out more about South Africa and the teaching and research in the field of engineering in the country; and open up possibilities for further communication and cooperation.
Concludes Prof Lyu: “I will promote the expansion of this type of interaction in the future. It is actually part of UJ CI’s work to promote comprehensive and in-depth communication and cooperation between UJ and Nanjing Tech University and some other universities in China, such as staff/student exchange, joint academic research, discipline construction, talent training, international conference, etc. I think with all our efforts, the future will be bright.”