Exploring China’s culture through firsthand experience in Beijing

By Nor Athirah Mursyidah Nor Zailan

“Once you visit a place, you never really leave it.”

Everything in life holds a story within itself. Apart from being a place full of historical elements, Beijing is a place where you can take a glimpse of an eye to see the secret life of Chinese people through the lens of China’s capital.

Despite the scorching sun during summer, thousands of steps needed to walk from home to the destination, the hustle and bustle of big city. Beijing truly holds a special place in every person’s heart every time they set their foot in that city, through its uniqueness and hidden tales.

On 16 until 23 June recently, a group of 12 IIUM students were participating in the Mobility Outreach Programme 3.0: China, which was aimed to help Chinese-Muslim community in Beijing specifically while exploring China’s culture.

The programme was fully organised by the Kulliyyah of Languages and Management Students’ Society and it was partly funded and self-sponsored by the participants themselves.

Among the delegates were Mohd. Aasim Addli, Muhammad Hanif Naim, Amir Asyraf Zulkiflee, Salahuddin Ahmad Abidin, Nor Athirah Mursyidah Nor Zailan, Ayu Nurain Nabila Anuar, Syazaliyana Zainudin, Aliah Eilina Alias, Izriennawanti Jamri, Nur Izaidah Abdul Halim, Aniz Afrina Mohd Zin and Nadiah Khairi.

These students had been taking Mandarin class for two levels in two consecutive semesters. They were accompanied by their Mandarin lecturer, Muhammad Nazirul Mohd Noor, together with a KLM officer, Siti Aminah binti Abas.

On the first day, they visited the legendary Summer Palace after settling down in a hotel. The palace was built under an order from China’s Emperor as a getaway and a place to retreat from city life during summer time, hence the name.

The following stop was at Puan Rozi’s place in Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) compound. She is a proud Malaysian who is currently teaching Malay language in BFSU for the past five years.

She enlightened the participants with her experience teaching at BFSU. The visit was short but packed with information and sharing with Puan Rozi as well as her students.

The second day of programme witnessed the students exploring one of Beijing’s imperial temples, the Temple of Heaven. It is located in southeastern part of central Beijing.

The journey to reach the temple from its entrance was seemingly endless but it’s worth the time and energy. It was indeed a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design.

The students were amazed to see live performance outside the temple. It was the traditional dance of Xinjiang/Uyghur, which later was attempted by some of the students.        

The day continued with a visit to Niujie Mosque, one of the highlights of the programme. Delegates were to have a handover ceremony for donation of a Quranic Tafseer from IIUM to the management of Niujie Mosque.


The donation was delivered by the accompanied lecturer, Muhammad Nazirul Mohd Noor (second from left), together with programme manager, Mohd Aasim Addli (on the left), and his assistant, Muhammad Hanif Naim (on the right) to the respective Imam of Niujie Mosq
ue.

Niujie Mosque is situated alongside of Niujie Street in Beijing’s Xicheng District. It is the oldest and largest mosque in Beijing and is said to be the central point for Muslims in Beijing to gather for social and religious purposes.

The architectural details and mix of colours are two significant elements that make Niujie Mosque even appealing to be discovered.

The third day of programme saw the lecturers of Beijing Foreign Studies University welcoming the participants from IIUM Pagoh. A short meet up was held to have an ice breaking session while exchanging ideas and mini photography session together.

Lecturers of Beijing Foreign Studies University welcoming the participants

Next stop was Beijing Olympic Park, known as Beijing Olympic Green. It locates the National Stadium, which also goes by the name of the iconic Bird’s Nest and other attractions.

It was firstly launched during Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and now, it has become one of the tourist attractions, striking a balance between technology and green.


The participants outside the National Stadium, Beijing

Exploring Beijing would not be completed without witnessing the Great Wall of China. The one-week programme was continued with all participants wearing traditional Malay attire, to climb the Great Wall. It was a way of introducing Malay culture to Beijing people.


In their Malay outfit baju kurung and baju Melayu ready to climb the Great Wall of China

It was a tough journey which resulted in beautiful ending. Great Wall is way better at the top view; of rocky path and serenity.

The next day called for an expedition in Tiananmen Street. They started the day off with walking through hutong, a narrow alley, towards a quiet and hidden gem, Qianmen Mosque, which is located among the houses in residential area.

They had a chance to perform Friday prayer together with Chinese-Muslim community in the nicely-built mosque.

Another handover ceremony for donation of two Quranic Tafseer was done by accompanied lecturer to Imam of Qianmen Mosque right after Friday prayer, outside the prayer hall.

Muslim community happy receiving the visit of students from IIUM Pagoh

The following agenda was to visit the Jingshan Park to enjoy the whole scenic view of Forbidden City from the park. On remaining day of the program, they explored Beijing 798 Art District and hopped on the China bullet train from Beijing to Tianjin on the very last day.

Tianjin’s Little Italy was their last pit stop before heading to Tianjin Binhai International Airport.

At the entrance of Jingshan Park

“We have learnt a lot from the historic places we visited and got used with communicating in Mandarin throughout this programme,” said one of the participants.

The students had hoped to see the culture that had been discovered, the moments cherished, and the lessons taught during the programme as something beneficial to them. And the people who surrounded them on their trip as well, all these had given the participants a good exposure to help lead new generations to create a better future for Malaysia. ***



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