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Suzhou: a Chinese-German student's travelogue of discovery

By Leopold Lind | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-04-10 07:47
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Leopold Lind spoke during a round table at the "Go Jiangsu "launch ceremony. [Photo by DONG MING/FOR CHINA DAILY]

As a Chinese-German student at Tsinghua University, I thought I had a good grasp of both Chinese culture and modernization.

Yet, Suzhou presented a fresh perspective, showing me how tradition and modernity coexist harmoniously in this city.

As one of the destinations of the "Go Jiangsu" program, we visited the Yao Jianping Embroidery Art Gallery. Before this encounter, my interaction with Suzhou embroidery was limited to online images, which is why, at the art gallery, I marveled at the unbelievable precision that I had assumed was machine-made.

Seeking a hands-on experience, I realized the immense patience and skill behind every stitch, weaving stories with threads that are a millennia-old cultural heritage. It struck me that this isn't just handicraft; it's an art form and a slice of history.

Wandering through Suzhou at night was a different kind of magic. The streetlights, bustling markets, and street food transported me to another dimension. Walking down the Pingjiang Road, where ancient buildings meet modern lighting, I felt the unique charm of Suzhou. It dawned on me that modernization doesn't have to mean abandoning tradition; they can exist side by side.

The visit to the Caoxieshan Archaeological Site Park was even more striking. Standing amid ancient relics, I tried to picture the lives of those who dwelt here thousands of years ago. This direct touch with history deepened my respect for our ancestors and their legacy.

Exploring Suzhou Industrial Park, I witnessed another facet of China's modernization. These towering buildings and cutting-edge companies showcased the rapid pace of China's modern development. The transition from ancient culture to modern technology was nothing short of astonishing.

Visiting the Suzhou Museum of Imperial Kiln Brick rounded out my journey, offering a comprehensive view of China's history. Each exhibit narrated a story, spanning from ancient artifacts to modern achievements, enriching my understanding of China's developmental trajectory.

Suzhou truly lives up to its reputation as "the city of museums, the city of parks, and the city of theater".This trip was much more than a simple travel experience; it was an enlightening exploration of China's unique blend of tradition and modernity. Through personal encounters, I gained not just knowledge but a deeper connection and appreciation for China's culture and progress. This journey wasn't just a physical one; it was an enriching experience for the soul.

Written by Leopold Lind, a German student at Tsinghua University.

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