Students visit the Beijing International Book Fair
On 15 August 2018, Beverley Tarquini, Senior Publishing lecturer, Byron Russell, Head of Ingenta Connect and Xiaochen Zhang, Deputy Direct or of the Confucius Institute at Oxford Brookes University chaperoned 17 publishing students for a two week summer camp and visit to Beijing International Book Fair. Our partners at Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press (FLTRP) welcomed the group of undergraduate and post-graduate students and arranged a variety of cultural and industry visits.
Read on for reports from some of the students.
From Natasha Ullman - BA Publishing Media Student
My trip to china…. words cannot describe how honored and privileged I feel to have been able to experience the sights and sounds of Beijing. This city with its peaceful residents juxtaposing its fast-paced lifestyle brings together a blend of old and new culture that is truly breathtaking. For example, one of our trips was to the Summer Palace where our tour guide taught us all the different stories painted on the beams that formed the Long Corridor.This particularly stood out to me as the paintings were so intricate and detailed it made the stories come to life. I also found the history of this palace fascinating, with regards to the physical building but also the social construct of the people there. In particular the fashion was incredibly ornate, and I found myself wanting to look just as regal!
Obviously, I must discuss the Beijing Book Fair and how it represents the global importance of publishing today. I went to a captivating talk by Macmillan called Little Books Big Resultsregarding their Pocket Study Skills. They discussed the importance of study guides for foreign students, in particular, as many lack the confidence to excel in their subject due to smaller issues like understanding referencing and essay layout. I found this talk very motivating as it showed how academic publishers were looking at the global picture and wanting to help students. This was also seen at the FLTRP stand where they created a collection of books called Discover China to help English people learn Chinese. I have purchased the first books and hope to carry on my Chinese thanks to them.
A big thank you to the Confucius Institute and the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.
From Prae Laksangwilai - MA Publishing Media Student
The China field trip with Brookes has changed my perception about China. It is the country of technology and development, not the restricted country that still believes in the old tradition. I have been always fascinated by Chinese culture and tradition, which are presented through TV series and books, but after this trip, I’m now amazed by how far this country has developed, especially in the publishing industry. I know that Chinese people read a lot, but didn’t know that the publishers have improved the reading experience for the reader this much. I really enjoy visiting iReader—the company that has developed an e-reader which looks like Amazon's Kindle but better, the China Printing Museum, and the FLTRP’s bookstores. I have learned lots of new things about publishing in China from these places. Also, the Beijing book fair is amazing, especially the Chinese publishers’ zone.
From Oda Tolsrod - undergraduate student
The trip has shown me a new side of China. Experiencing the culture and society first-hand was incredibly interesting and eye opening. There was a tightly packed schedule, so we were able to see a lot in the two weeks we were there. I really enjoyed the wide array of cultural experiences one might not be able to experience as a regular tourist, such as an art gallery opening and painting! The days at Beijing Book Fair were also incredibly diverse and fun. A lot of things were going on all over the area, both within Chinese publishing and international companies. It was also lovely to meet people from the different companies we had visited and talk to them more one on one and learn about their jobs and companies. Overall, the trip provided me with both industry insight, visits to cultural sites and getting to know students from all across the publishing department!
From Ellen Tweed - undergraduate student
The two weeks I spent in China with Oxford Brookes and FLTRP was truly incredible, throughout the course of the trip we were treated with such warmth and friendliness from everyone we met. The itinerary was jam packed full of exciting activities, allowing us to immerse ourselves in Chinese culture, food and tourist spots. We were introduced to everything from tea tasting to visiting the Forbidden City. My favourite excursion was getting the chance to walk along part of the Great Wall which I have always wanted to do. Another aspect of the trip I loved was learning about the international publishing industry. There was no better way to do this than attending the Beijing Book Fair where we were able to talk and ask questions to numerous publishers from around the world. I am wholeheartedly grateful to FLTRP for funding this trip and making it such an amazing experience for us all.
From Chloe Walmsley - undergraduate student
Beijing, China. Where do I start? It’s hot, it’s busy, and no one seems to know how zebra crossings work! It’s also home to some amazing food, breathtaking cultural sites and some of the nicest people you could ever meet. From Mei, Lily, Freya and all of the staff at FLTRP, to our tour guides Steven and Sharon, everybody was made to feel at home from the very first day.
Visiting China has always been on my bucket list, so when Brookes offered us the chance to take part in a two week cultural exchange for the cost of a plane ticket and a visa many of us jumped at the opportunity, and it was really nice to experience the trip with a group of likeminded students from across the publishing department.
It was a very busy and tiring two weeks, with a schedule jam-packed with both cultural and industry based experiences; from climbing the Great Wall to visiting the Forbidden City, as well as tours around a number of Chinese publishing houses, we got to experience a China that is fast becoming a leading player within the publishing industry.
The Beijing Book Fair itself is an experience on a whole other level; one minute you’re at a book launch and the next you’ve stumbled into a cookery demonstration!
It really was the trip of a lifetime and I would definitely recommend it if you have the chance.
From Ugena See - undergraduate student
I never thought I would enjoy a university trip as much as I did for this trip. It was thoroughly one of the best trips I've had so far.
Through this trip you really get to understand what the publishing scene is like in China, which, by the way, is quite different from that in the UK, not in terms of operations but in terms of how things work. We had the chance to visit many Chinese publishers, and truly understood the trends and new technology available in China. Beijing Book Fair was also a big eye-opener, and is an amazing opportunity, especially for the undergrads since we don't have as much of opportunities to visit the various international book fairs unlike the postgrads.
Of course, the various attractions we went to is an amazing cherry on top, and all the cultural activities, very meticulously planned by our hosts and lecturers, really help you learn of the beauty of the Chinese culture. I mean, tea ceremonies, opera performances and umbrella hats? Yes please! Honestly, I wasn't expecting much of China, as many people are, and I was pleasantly surprised. On top of these, I really got to know other people from other years, and made some amazing friends through this trip. I had fun everyday and I am very very thankful for the opportunity to be on this trip.
From Taryn Brickner, MA student 2018
The trip to China not only changed my perception of China, but revealed the growing and prosperous Chinese publishing industry. The experience of the culture and society was made even more special thanks to our amazing FLTRP staff and translators: Mei, Lily, Freya and our tour guides Steven and Sharon. The jam-packed two week schedule was balanced with tourist attractions, special events like a tea tasting and music performance, and meeting industry professionals at various publishing houses. Some of my favourite highlights were the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, and the delicious food - including the scorpions! The Beijing Book Fair was full of diverse books, technology, and much more. To be able to talk to professionals there about the Chinese publishing industry was an opportunity unlike any other.
I am eternally grateful to FLTRP, the Confucius Institute, and Oxford Brookes for funding this trip and making it such a memorable experience.
From Emma Lagarde, MA student 2018
It’s impossible to name just one thing that I loved about the China trip, as I loved so many things. I’m not sure what I was expecting China and Beijing to be like exactly, but it far exceeded my expectations in every way. It’s an incredibly hot and busy city, but also filled with some of the kindest and most hospitable people I have ever met. Despite the often quite sizeable language barrier, everyone went above and beyond to make me feel welcome. I was excited to visit the Great Wall and the Forbidden City - 2 places that had been on my bucket list for a very long time. I also felt so privileged to be shown around the different Publishers and observe how they operate. But above all I fell in love with the food. Every day we were given mountains of some of the best food I have ever had, from delicious noodles to roasted scorpion.
I can’t thank Oxford Brookes or The Confucius Institute enough for allowing me to come along on what became a life changing experience.
Last edited: 28 01 2019