Ira Hutchison makes a cultural connection

Ira Hutchison lectures graduate students(Dr. Hutchison lecturing  graduate students at China University of Political Science and Law.)  

Recently, I was able to travel to China, thanks to NMU support and invitations from two Chinese universities and a research institute. The purpose of the trip was to present a series of lectures on the sociology of American families, and on higher education in the United States. To say that it was the trip of a lifetime is an understatement. We found our Chinese hosts to be gracious, generous, engaging and enthusiastic. My wife Barbara and I simply could not have asked for more. Dinner

(Dinner hosted by Professor Jiashi Wang, Dean of the College of Foreign Languages, at ECUPL. Notice the Chinese and American flags on the table-one example of his constant thoughtfulness.)

My invitation to visit China was initiated by Professor Wang Jiashi, Dean of the College of Foreign Languages at the East China University of Political Science and Law (the fourth top law school in China). Professor Wang went overboard at every step to make sure that we were comfortable, and that the plans went smoothly. While at ECUPL, I had the opportunity to give lectures in English, sociology and social work classes. Gaining admission to Chinese universities is extremely competitive, and these students are among the very best and brightest in China. It was a privilege to spend some time with them and the faculty. All of my university lectures were in English, without any translator. The college students I met have been studying English for many, many years, and they speak extremely well. I don’t think that any of them would have a single problem if they came to an American university to study. They are smart, hard working and articulate. The only difference I really noticed is that Chinese students were shyer than American students about speaking up in class. Even with this, however, they still asked questions, responded to questions, and laughed (a lot). I had a wonderful time and, frankly, wanted to bring them all back to NMU. While in Shanghai I also had the opportunity to give a seminar for senior scholars and graduate students at the Shanghai Academy for Social Sciences-a type of “think tank” for that region of China. The SASS  has several institutes, including Sociology (of course) as well as Economics, World Economy, Eurasian Studies, Religious studies, and History, to cite just a few.

Dr Hutchison with faculty and students in China

(ECUPL English, sociology and social work students after an informal question-answer session. Dean of Sociology and Social Work, Professor Li Jianyong, seated (in brown jacket). Professor Li was instrumental in arranging the lectures in his department as well as my seminar at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.)

We spent the most time in Shanghai and the surrounding area, and then five days in Beijing, where I lectured to graduate students at the China University of Political Science and Law. CUPL is the top law school in China and graduate students who attended came from a diversity of professional areas. I was honored to be invited, and was impressed by their questions. Dr. Liang Yongia, Assistant Dean of the School of Sociology, was my host at CUPL.

Additional Images from China Experience

Dr. Hutchison meeting with Dr. Liang Yongia, Assistant Dean of the School of Sociology and Social Work at China University of Political Science and Law.
Dr Hutchison with host family Barbara and I with our Beijing hosts and friends, Yajie Luo, her husband Rocky and son Timothy. Like all 12 years olds, Timothy was full of energy but managed to stand still for this picture. Yajie was a graduate student of mine about 12 year ago. 
Ira and Barb Hutchison converse with Chinese students Dr Hutchison and wife Barbara had opportunities to meet with students informally also. Here they talk with ECUPL English students after class.
Dr. Hutchison lecturing in china Dr. Hutchison lectures for East China University of Political Science and Law Sociology/Social Work class.
Dr Hutchison with social work students Meeting with social work students after class. Social Work Program Director, Miss Yang Xu, is standing to my right.
Dr Hutchison shares a laugh with students Dr. Hutchison and Chinese students share a humorous moment during his first lecture.
Ira Hutchison and Bian Lin With Dr. Bian Lin, College of Foreign Languages, our interpreter, guide and friend; in a traditional Chinese teahouse in Shanghai. Last year, Dr. Li was the guest of the Department of Sociology and Social Work. 
Lin Dajiang and Yu Zhihong Two of the bright stars in the College of Foreign Languages firmament, Mr. Lin Dajiang and Mr. Yu Zhihong.

In addition to lecturing about sociology and learning about academic programs, their hosts treated Ira and Barbara Hutchison to the sights and culture of China. Here are a few other images from their journey-depicting the tradition and the change in Chinese society.

panda eatijng bamboo You would not believe how much bamboo this guy could eat! This is just one of the 9,367 pictures of pandas being cute taken by my wife, Barbara.
Great Wall Books and films did not prepare us to be awed at the Great Wall. This picture was taken at Mutianyu, about an hour and a half’s drive from Beijing. We walked until we got to that really steep part on the far right of the picture.  How the Mongols got past this I will never know.
Ira and traditional dress Dr. Ira Hutchison poses with a traditional figure at a park in Beijing.
Chinese Garden If you don’t find scenic beauty in China, your eyes must be closed. The parks we saw were always beautiful, often breathtaking.
KFC in China In juxtaposition to the traditional images of China are the icons of America. Having been there, social work senior Amy Jo Chick forewarned us that we would see more KFCs in China than anywhere else on earth; she was right. On more than one occasion we saw two in the same block.
modern chinese couple As a family sociologist, Ira noted this couple. In the Shanghai train station, they were looking at us and we were looking at  them. They agreed to this photo. Traditionally, there would not have been this much public affection, but times are changing.