From here to Shangri-La: the study trip of a lifetime

News Page 10th May 2018

Students at the University of Northampton immersed themselves in ancient Chinese culture on a study trip to China’s Yunnan province.

Eight International Development students stayed in the picturesque town of Lijiang, situated next to Shangri-La City – famously named after the mythical paradise.

The aim of the trip was to discover more about the politics of heritage tourism in other cultures.

A UNESCO world heritage site, Lijiang is home to the Naxi community, a local minority culture that is protected and promoted to international and domestic tourists.

While in Lijiang, students were accompanied by three students from the Communication University of China (CUC) and two local Naxi guides. This exclusive entourage granted the students’ access to local ceremonies and activities that tourists would normally not have the opportunity to experience.

The students witnessed a Naxi wedding ceremony, studied ancient Dongba script and visited the homes of famous Naxi artists and musicians. They travelled to the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain to watch the iconic ‘Lijiang impressions show’ which is choreographed by Chinese film director, Zhang Yimou, and shows local minority historical roles and lifestyles with the help of 500 performers.

This trip comes as the University continues to build strong links with China, and a planned visit to the University by the CUC students later this year will complete the cultural exchange.

Alison Hulme, Lecturer in International Development, said: “This was a truly inspirational trip. We feel so privileged to be shown a glimpse of the Naxi people’s way of life – and it has completely opened our students’ eyes to other cultures and traditions.

“Our fabulous guides and students who met us in Lijiang, brought crucial local knowledge to the trip and provided important help in translating. This will further develop the University’s relations with China and has also built strong bonds between our students and the Chinese students, and we look forward to welcoming them when they visit Northampton in July.”

Second year International Development student, Mima Moyo, said: “I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity by the University, it was honestly the trip of a lifetime. The highlight of the trip was being able to immerse myself in the culture of the Naxi and explore the beautiful Old Town.”

Jake, third year student, said: “I loved seeing the Lijiang impressions show and visiting the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. I felt we had formed a bond with our guides that went beyond them being translators and tour guides. I’ve done lots of things that I would never imagine myself doing, but even more so, it’s made me want to go back to Lijiang and other parts of China in the future.”

For more information on our International Development course, visit the course page.

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