LIU Global Students Explore Village Governance in Remote China
Students are first westerners in living memory to visit the small village of Shi-men
Long Island University,
Brooklyn, N.Y. -- A group of LIU Global students recently learned firsthand about local governance in the world’s most populous country. Government and Communist party officials in the village of Shi-Men hosted the students, teaching them about the various leadership roles in the village and county and leading a tour of the village’s most important sites. Shi-Men is a village of 670 people located in the county of Chun-An, and the LIU Global students were its first non-Chinese visitors in living memory.
Eleven LIU Global students undertook a long journey into the mountains together with their professor of modern Chinese history and other LIU staff. Their professor, Dr. Liu Wei, has taught for LIU Global for 18 years and is also a professor at Zhejiang University (one of five “Chinese Ivies”). Two county-level officials went with the group, thus making possible a visit to an area not seen by outsiders for at least a generation.
“Chinese government policies have been favoring urbanization and letting the countryside fade away,” recalled student Katy Giguere. “When you walk through Shi-men, most of the people are over 60 or under the age of seven. The school-aged children are at boarding schools, the working-aged parents have gone into the city to work and send back money.”
Shi-Men’s party secretary hosted the students to a lunch of locally grown food, which included fish and frog caught in local streams, bamboo shoots, cabbage, and tofu. After lunch and a discussion of local governance, the party secretary and Professor Liu led the group on a tour of the village, including the 300-year-old village hall and a traditional house that has been in use continuously for several hundred years. Students also visited small tea plantations and a religious shrine.
Global studies major Lewis Bailey noted, "People produce their own food, have clean water, and seem to have happy lives, but because of the slow developing economy, Shi-Men appears to be stuck somewhere in the past.”
Return to Press Releases