Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Postcard from Harbin

HNC American Academic Coordinator Angela Chang was recently in Beijing and Harbin to recruit for the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.  You can read about her experiences while visiting CET in Harbin below.  Future HNC students should keep Harbin in mind as a destination during one of the weeklong breaks during our academic year!

Harbin Beer (哈尔滨啤酒)is available across China 
Earlier this semester, I recruited at the CET program in Harbin, a city well regarded for its standard Mandarin pronunciation.  Harbin is the center for higher education in Northeast China, and Harbin Institute of Technology, which is where CET is based, is considered one of China’s “ivy league” universities.  CET Harbin offers its students a full immersion environment complete with a language pledge, one-on-one tutorial, and local roommates.  A former student once joked that the reason they attain such high Chinese proficiency is because it is too cold outside to do anything but study.  Harbin is also China’s northernmost city and known worldwide for its annual ice festival each winter.  Due to its close proximity to the northern border, Harbin has historically received a great deal of Russian influence, and today this is most visible in its food and architecture.

St. Sophia Cathedral (圣索菲亚教堂)
The main architectural attraction in the city is St. Sophia Cathedral, one of the few remaining Orthodox Christian churches in the city.  It houses the Harbin Museum of Architecture, which gives a fascinating look at the city’s development and how the Russian population once lived.          
Harbin’s Jewish New Synagogue, which was completed in 1921, could hold more than 800 worshippers at once.  It has since been restored and today houses an impressive collection of Harbin Jewish History and Culture.
Harbin Jewish New Synagogue (哈尔滨犹太新会堂)
“Harbin is a city in China where some 20,000 Jews lived for many decades.  Most important, they encountered no anti-Semitism among the Chinese, such as is prevalent in other lands, from the Chinese people they encountered no anti-Jewish bitterness or violence.  As one result, former Jewish residents of Harbin call themselves ‘Harbintsi.’”

~ Israel Epstein (1915-2005), one of the few foreign-born Chinese citizens of non-Chinese origin to become a member of the CCP