Seeing pandas up close


July 23, 2010



EDITOR'S NOTE:
Throughout the summer, ASU students studying abroad will be writing back to the states about their overseas adventures. Fostering international student experiences is just one part of ASU's commitment to making a global impact.

Christopher's blog:
你好 (Hello) Sun Devils! As promised, I have returned with panda pictures! This past weekend our class went to the Panda Research Base located on the outskirts of Chengdu. The base acts as both a research/breeding center and a zoo and is covered with bamboo forest and has multiple giant panda enclosures, along with enclosures for red pandas (which aren't actually related to giant pandas), a theater showing panda documentaries, a panda museum and a nursery for baby pandas. As there was recently a birth, we got to see a newborn panda! Sadly, we were not allowed to take pictures of the newborn, but we were able to get surprisingly close to the adult pandas – at one point we were only a couple feet away from a panda with only a guardrail between us. And, of course, there were also panda souvenirs everywhere. Several students bought items like panda slippers, bobble heads and postcards. I bought myself a panda T-shirt. Download Full Image

Earlier in the week, I visited Wang Jiang park which is just around the corner from Sichuan University. The park is located on a river bank and is actually a bamboo park with many traditional-style buildings that are now exhibits, including a famous river-viewing pagoda. Since an entrance fee is required to see the pagoda and other exhibits, I didn't see them on this trip (although I intend to see them at a later date). Instead, I went to the other side of the park which has several open areas and teahouses. In the open areas I saw many elderly residents playing with Chinese yo-yos. The Chinese yo-yo is quite different from the standard yo-yo, and it was pretty amazing to see some of the tricks that the were being practiced. After watching for a while, I went to one of the teahouses to relax a bit. Teahouses are a huge part of Chinese culture, especially here in Chengdu. People go to the teahouse and spend the entire day there sipping tea, chatting with friends or playing Mahjiang, a game that is kind of like poker but with blocks instead of cards.

Next week I'll be back with pictures of a nearby Daoist mountain and relics from a lost civilization!

Christopher Robinson, a sustainability and Chinese major, is a student in the Chinese Language Flagship Program and will be a senior this fall. He is studying abroad in China this summer.

Depicting the deeper meanings of currency


July 23, 2010

EDITOR'S NOTE: Throughout the summer, ASU students studying abroad will be writing back to the states about their overseas adventures. Fostering international student experiences is just one part of ASU's commitment to making a global impact. Download Full Image

Brett's blog:
As a relatively new foreign traveler, the first significant cultural difference I noticed between Costa Rica and the United States was the depictions on each country’s respected currency. After I had exchanged dollars for colones, the bright colors and intrinsic designs on the Tican currency captivated me. The Banco Central de Costa Rica Museum rekindled the unusual Costa Rican “effectivo,” drawing my fascination. The museum’s display of the 5,000 colones bill simplifies and explains the significance behind the decorative artwork. The inspiring colones bill provokes thought regarding what cultural impact and conclusions one draws from the décor of a country’s currency. Since the nation’s entire populace handles and exchanges currency daily, its décor speaks volumes about how the government and people perceive the country and what cultural imprint the bills leave. The government prints the monetary supply and has the power to display any message, so analyzing and understanding why each bill is significant to its particular country becomes important.

In Costa Rica, the Tican currency’s presentation promotes cultural awareness and creativity, while American currency emphasizes political power and formalization. Although, the two messages contradict one another, the differing depictions reflect the mindsets and values of each corresponding government. The people of Costa Rica demonstrate their perceptions through popularizing the noteworthy cultural influences, such as foremost artisans, writers and poets of the time. The colorful artwork and variety of influential cultural figureheads on the colones reflect the notion that Costa Ricans have and always will be a people of many appreciated talents. The American dollars primarily enshrine political figureheads and lack creativity and color; the currency relies heavily on formulaic designs to ease printing and transform the citizens into a politically driven culture. However, the Costa Rican colones act as an inspiration and reminder that the people will remember and respect all cultural influences, not solely the political ones.

Brett Fitzgerald, a finance and accounting major, will be a sophomore this fall. He is studying abroad in Costa Rica this summer.