SAN FRANCISCO - A field trip to an ancient Chinese town has changed the stereotyped impression of China held by a group of American students and gave them an opportunity to better understand the country, a veteran film director said on Sunday.
Last year, a group of 18 students from the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University made a life-changing, three-week journey to Huizhou in eastern China's Anhui province, to shoot a documentary about China using information they collected locally, says Duffy Wang, a film director and the president of San Francisco-based TV company D3 Productions.
He says the students' first trip to China quickly got rid of some of the misconceptions they previously held, such as China being a backward or an unsafe country, which is sometimes suggested by US media reports.
"The US media is really misleading and one-sided when it comes to many of their reports about China," Wang says based on the feedback he got from the students following the trip.
The SFSU students visited Huizhou, explored art studios, opera houses and health centers, and learned about the ancient culture of tea drinking there.
US students showcase China through documentary
They also delved deep into the lives of families of migrant workers who move to other parts of China to make a better living while leaving behind their young children with the grandparents.
The students then produced a two-hour, four-part documentary about the locals. It featured a man working hard to hold onto his family-inherited wonton noodle business; an eighth-generation craftsman making feng shui compasses and a family of left-behind children who defy the odds to stay healthy both physically and mentally while living with their grandparents.
The documentary was screened at the San Francisco Public Library on Saturday.
Ernie Calderon, one of the oldest members of the student group, says he learned a lot from his China trip, particularly how to adapt to other people and deal with problems that can pop up.
"You are in a foreign land, you don't know the language, you don't know the culture, you don't know the rules. So you have to adapt to work on your ideas while working around problems," he says.
"That's a very important lesson that I think I will take away for the rest of my film career," says Calderon, who graduated from the SFSU and is pursuing his master's degree and PhD at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Joe Barnett, another member of the student group and a director of one of the four parts of the documentary, says that all the stereotypes he had about China were dispelled right away after he landed in Beijing and Shanghai.
"Unlike what I was told beforehand that some people in China might be rude or unwelcoming to foreigners, I found that it was not true. Everyone was super nice and wanted to talk to us," he says.
(China Daily Global 07/04/2019 page15)