In late January 2019, the students enrolled in 2018 were divided into two delegations. Most of them headed to Oxford, while the rest went to Greece for a 10-day international exchange. In the previous semester, they had immersed themselves in general courses such as Ancient Greek Civilization, Way of University, Study of Shih Chi (Historical Records), British Literature and Art in the 19th Century, and Art Inspiring. After a semester of intensive reading, discussion and writing training, those young students were ready to embark on a knowledge-seeking journey.
Visit to Oxford
On January 21, more than 60 Xinya students arrived in Oxford and were pleasantly surprised by the distinctive guesthouses they would be living in the next few days.
On January 22, the weather was fine and the students scattered across Oxford gathered at Pembroke College to attend a lecture on the Anglo-Saxon epicBeowulf.
They were enchanted by the Old English recitation by Prof. Andy Orchard, who gave an in-depth explanation of the excerpts.
They also communicated with the Oxford students while dining, and kept in mind the task of "visiting canteens of the University of Oxford" assigned by Dean Gan Yang.
In the following days, they visited New College, Merton College, the Queen's College, and Balliol College of the University of Oxford by attending lectures and seminars, visiting museums, libraries, laboratories and churches, and participating in formal Visit to Oxford and informal dinners.
In the lecture on quantum cryptography, Prof. Taylor explained the obscure physical knowledge in a vivid and interesting way. Dr. Trott explained Alice Oswald's poems.Prof. Cao Li, a teacher who led the delegation, encouraged the students to take an active part in discussions. At the Ashmolean Museum, Prof. Zhang Lei, another teacher who led the delegation, introduced the exhibits. When attending the evening prayer at the New College Church on Friday, the choir's heavenly singing impressed the students.
"What strikes me is the closeness of the Oxford community and the pride they have in their college. Both students and teachers speak proudly of the history and style of their college. From the details I have observed, such community is formed based on two factors. The first is their canteen. At the long tables with distinctive features, students can communicate with each other during meals, and professors also dine and interact with students in the hall. The second is Oxford's famous tutorial system. The group work can strengthen the connection between students and teachers. There are also some other special facilities like the common room, where activities are held to make students bond with each other. When a senior student showed us around, she mentioned the high level of participation of students in college affairs. Even if it is a small matter, they will actively offer suggestions when they feel it is necessary."
"The visit ended too soon for me to ponder over it. Due to my poor English listening ability, I was unable to fully grasp the details of the lectures by the professors and even the gist of some. It was my first time to listen to an English lecture for such a long time. I felt a little frustrated when seeing other students laughing at the professor's jokes and expressing their opinions in fluent English. Then, I reflected on myself and decided to work harder. However, I learned a lot in just nine days. Especially after the lecture given by Prof. Jessica Rawson, I benefited a lot from exchanging ideas with Cao, Ge and several students."
"During my stay of more than one week in Oxford, I walked along an uneven flagstone road from my residence to the city center every day, and strolled in the colleges that call themselves the oldest.The old buildings and wind chimes demonstrated Oxford's glory from the Middle Ages. The pride and community spirit of teachers and students were self-evident in their words. The Churchill family's treasures housed in the Blenheim Palace and the rare collections from all over the world in the British Museum revealed the glorious past of the British Empire on which the sun never sets when it was at the height of its power. The memory of the nation, in different ways, is embedded in the landscape of England. Before leaving, I walked along the road again as the ancients did, thus exploring the profound history of the Old England."
Visit to Greece
On January 22, the Xinya students visited the University of Athens. A lively graduation ceremony was held on that day. They were warmly received by the Vice Rector, who introduced the history of the university in detail and that of Athens from the age of Prometheus, and showed them the murals on the outer wall of the university.
In the next three days, the delegation visited the Acropolis, the Theater of Dionysus, the Acropolis Museum, the Foro Romano ruins, the Temple of Hephaestus, and the Plato Academy.
"While reading books about the ancient Greece, I used to wonder about its past and present on the other side of the Eurasian continent. Standing at the Acropolis, I feel as if I were wakening from a dream. Traces of the ancient Greece can be found here."
"At the Theater of Dionysus, where the trilogy by Aeschylus is said to have been staged, students who have recentlywritten an essay on it are excited as if they are about to meet a net friend."
On the sixth day in Greece, the students took an early flight to the tranquil island of Crete, where they stayed for three days. When walking on the stairs of the historic site, visiting the cultural relics in the museum, and facing the source of Western civilization, they were amazed and moved.
"We can feel the vitality of the birthplace of the ancient Greek civilization and its culture of nature and art."
"When we bid farewell to the island for Athens, we kept its beauty in our minds.”