Elms students experience the culture and history of Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai.

Elms Students in China

(left to right) the local guide, Dr. Pion, April Knight '15, Jessica Pieciak '14, Julia Pion, Agnesa Dziedzic '15, John Rogers, Francine Healey, Kayla Patrick '17, and Li Jun in Tiananmen Square.

Cultural View Broadens in China 

April Knight ’15 can now cross “Visit China” off her bucket list.

The East Longmeadow native who plans to see every continent was part of a group of students, faculty, and friends of Elms College that spent seven days experiencing the culture and history of Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai.

The trip was in conjunction with the course China and the Chinese People, a part of the Asian studies minor. The students – Agnesa Dziedzic ’15, Jessica Pieciak ’14, and Kayla Patrick ’17, in addition to April – also completed additional reading and writing assignments.

Living History

“Being able to walk in the cradle of human civilization that exists from one culture is amazing. We can’t do that in our country,” said April, a history and religious studies major.

She continued: “Their culture is one of the first places where humans built things with tools. Standing in the Shanghai Museum, you can see things from the very beginning of human civilization up to today in one room.”

In Beijing, the students hiked along the Great Wall, toured the Temple of Heaven, and strolled across Tiananmen Square. For April, the most astounding site on the trip was the Terracotta Warriors in Shanghai. About 2,500 years ago an emperor commissioned an army of terracotta warriors to protect him in the afterlife. Workers began sculpting the approximately 8,000 terracotta statues.

“It was discovered in the ’70s by a group of farmers digging a well when they came across these statues,” April explained. “Most of them are in shambles but they’re housed in these ten large pits, only three of which are open to the public.”

Distinguishing Cultures

In addition to enjoying the beauty of China, April was reminded of the freedom she is able to enjoy at home.

“Their government controls make you appreciate how easy life is here. They have a 100 percent tax on vehicles. A 30 percent tax on all foreign goods. The black market is a part of their everyday life,” she said.

April will most likely go to seminary after graduation to become an Episcopalian priest.

“Expanding my world view to other cultures makes me more well-rounded and if I’m going to be a priest my horizon should be broad,” she said.