Encounters with Fujian

By Augustin F. C. Holl | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-06-16 18:14
Share - WeChat

Editor's note: We have asked expats living in China to share their stories about the cities where they live and work. Augustin F. C. Holl is a French expat who first visited China in 2012. He is a distinguished professor at Xiamen University, Fujian province.

Augustin F. C. Holl, distinguished professor at Xiamen University. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

I visited China for the first time in June 2012, as vice-president in charge of international relations and French director of the Confucius Institute, in a delegation led by the president of Paris-West Nanterre La Defense University, at the invitation to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the foundation of Nanjing University.

From that time on, I traveled to China many times a year to visit partner-universities, renew memoranda of understanding and negotiate new partnership with different higher education institutions.

For a long time, my acquaintance with the large and impressive almost continental state of China was exclusively limited to universities' campuses and institutions of higher learning. Things changed significantly, when I was offered a visiting-professor position at Xiamen University and started teaching a summer course entitled Archaeology of Mind: Introduction to Cognitive Anthropology.

The course explores how one can trace the development of human mental capacity and prowess through the use of the archaeological data. With the help of dedicated graduate student-assistants, the course was successful and well attended. I progressively adapted my teaching method to incite students to express their views.

After the course, I took the opportunity to become a tourist and visit different parts of the country with friends due to my language limitations. That is how I stumbled on the fascinating beauty of Fujian province. It is a microcosm of the history of the nation. It combines maritime civilizations and cultures with the continental ones, in this case those from the Central Plains. It is a key player in the Maritime Silk Road from at least the Song Dynasty (960-1279). And finally, it is a forested green hilly land with a dense rivers network, clean air and high-tech hubs.

I moved to Xiamen University in early 2017, and since then have explored different parts of the province and in the process learned about the critical contribution of this beautiful land to the construction of modern China.

First, Xiamen University Siming campus on the southwest flank of the island, stretched from the beach all over the hill flank, is one of, if not the most beautiful university campus of the whole country and an influential player in China's higher education.

Then Xiamen is a "garden-city" with its main thoroughfares designed like "green-spaces". Its attractiveness is once again attested by its gain in population – not far from 6 million inhabitants as shown by the recent census results.

The scenery and landscapes from the Nanping district, including Wuyi Mountain, are breathtaking. Long walks through the multiple kinds of tea plantations, depending on their locations and micro-environmental characteristics, convey a sense of the sophisticated and intricate skills involved in growing tea.

A visit at the local tea research center provided the opportunity to start training my non-connoisseur palate in tea-tasting. Elegantly built and well maintained "bridge-houses" attest to the high mastery of wood working art, and the harmony of water and rock invite to peace of mind and meditation. Taimu Mountain, the southern counterpart located in Fuding, along the coast of the East China Sea, is another enchanting landscape and tea growing area, rich in legends and fabulous histories.

The karstic formation of West Fujian offers such wonders of nature as the Laiyuan karst cave at Laiyuan village in Liancheng county. It is a delight to row light canoes down the streams in the subterranean rivers while learning about all the intriguing geological phenomena emphasized by colorful lights.

The earthen-castles – Tulou – from Nanjing county and surrounding areas as well as the enriching input of Hakka culture and architecture give a special touch to West Fujian cultural heritage.

1 2 3 Next   >>|
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349