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STF China Networking Event in Xi’an and Dunhuang, from 30 Oct. 2011 to 4 Nov. 2011

30/10/2011
04/11/2011
Asia/Shanghai

 

At Mogao Grottes, Dunhuang 

STF Fellows meet for regular Networking Events to exchange their experiences and discuss issues affecting their work in China, network with local academics and officials, and build on their earlier studies of Chinese language and culture during the introductory phase of the Programme. The latest Event was held in Xi’an and Dunhuang from 30th October to 4th November 2011. Unfortunately, owing to adverse weather conditions the arrival of the STF2 Fellows was delayed by one day, which meant that the planned visits to departments in Xi’an Jiaotong University and the networking with local participants had to be cancelled as these could not be rearranged at short notice, but all the other events took place as planned.

The Internal Meeting of STF2 Fellows was chaired by the STF Human Resources Development Expert, David Evans. He described the “Understanding Science” events in Beijing as one of the successful outcomes of the STF Programme and hoped that they would continue after the STF Fellows had finished their time in China. In order to promote “Understanding Science” in Shanghai, two of the Shanghai-based Fellows had been invited to make presentations to the Internal Meeting. Florian Hudelist gave a talk on “Measuring Distance–the Quantum Way”. The talk presented a clear description of a complex phenomenon in a pictorial way. Eric Amigues presented a talk on “PET (Positron Emission Tomography) Scans: At the Crossroads of Physics, Medicine and Chemistry” illustrating the principles of the PET technique and showing how compounds he had developed in the lab could be used in PET scans of tumors. Valuable comments were obtained from many Fellows, both in the meeting and informally afterwards, and Eric and Florian agreed to modify their talks accordingly for later presentation in Shanghai. In the second phase of the internal meeting, Fellows were divided into groups of laboratory-based researchers, chaired by David Evans, and non-laboratory-based researchers, chaired by STF2 Fellow Jan Specht, for more detailed discussions. In the final phase, all the Fellows joined together for more general discussion.

     

          Deputy Director Mr. Li Gang (left 1)                                   Mr. Li Ku (right) and Prof. David Evans

In Xi’an, the Fellows visited Hanyangling Museum where they were welcomed by the Deputy Director Mr. Li Gang. They were given a detailed presentation by Mr. Li Ku, Director of Display Storage, who also accompanied them on a visit to the exhibits. In the afternoon, they visited the Shaanxi Provincial History Museum under the guidance of Prof. Wang Shiping to see the newly established Sino–Italian pavilion of Tang Dynasty murals and other key exhibits in the museum. This was one of the highlights of the trip as Prof. Wang Shiping is not only an acknowledged expert on these on the murals and other exhibits but also a great enthusiast. As well as introducing the exhibits he also provided numerous anecdotes illustrating various aspects of Chinese history, language and culture. Such is his status and reputation that eight of the “normal” museum guides accompanied the party, taking copious notes. 


In front of Shaanxi Provincial History Museum, Xi'an

 

    

     Presentation by STF 2 Fellow, David Larreina Garcia                   Presentation by STF 2 Fellow, Jan Specht

From Xi’an, the Fellows travelled to Dunhuang. In the afternoon, they enjoyed presentations from STF2 Fellows Jan Specht and David Larrenia Garcia. Jan showed how virtual reality could be used to generate ways for visitors to “experience” a fragile tourist sight, allowing the actual site to be protected whilst allowing more people to enjoy the experience and generate greater revenue which can be used for conservation. He showed examples of virtual reality presentations of two of the Mogao grottoes which the Fellows would see the next day which had been developed by his former institution in collaboration with the Dunhuang Institute. David illustrated some of background history about the Silk Road and common misunderstandings which exist in popular knowledge, giving the Fellows a better general understanding of the development of Dunhuang. Guest speaker, Dr. Zhang Shangqing of the Institute of Dunhuang Studies in Lanzhou University gave a detailed description of the history of the Mogao grottoes and the general ideas of Buddhism which are displayed in the paintings. By means of video, he illustrated details of the story and artistic principles behind one of the paintings the Fellows would see the next day. Five of Dr. Zhang’s research students attended the meeting and joined in discussion with the Fellows.  

     

  Presentation by Dr. Zhang Shanqing(right 1, right upper corner)

Subsequently, the Fellows spent a whole day in the Mogao grottoes in the company of Dr. Zhang Shanqing of the Institute of Dunhuang Studies in Lanzhou University and Ms. Liu Cuiyin of the Dunhuang Academy. As well as being the senior specialist guide to the grottoes, she is also the author of several papers on the art in the caves. The Fellows had the opportunity to visit “special” caves which are not normally open to the public, and two caves which are currently undergoing a 3D digitization process. When the digitization is complete next year, most visitors will only see the digitized version with little or no public access to the actual caves and the Fellows were therefore very fortunate to enjoy such an extensive visit to the actual caves.