Abel Hara (center) with fellow delegates at Bajiaolou, former residence of Chairman Mao Zedong, in Jinggangshan, Jiangxi Province, on June 22 (COURTESY PHOTO)
There is a famous saying: Seeing is believing. The underlying implication of this statement is that nothing can substitute a firsthand experience. This chapter of my life via a five-day trip in Jiangxi Province afforded me the once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience China's history and culture up close.
My fellow delegates were young people from different countries such as the U.S., Portugal, Rwanda, Kenya, Thailand, Egypt and the Republic of Korea, to mention a few.
Despite our disparate professional and academic backgrounds, we were linked by the thread of a common Chinese experience, as well as the opportunity to learn more about this land that we have chosen to call home.
Our first stop was Jinggangshan, the first revolutionary base of the Communist Party of China (CPC) located in the middle of the Luoxiao Mountains at the junction of Hunan and Jiangxi provinces. We visited the residence of Chairman Mao Zedong in the late 1920s at Bajiaolou. As a Zambian citizen, I could not help thinking about the
relationship between Chairman Mao and the first president of the Republic of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, who passed away only a few days prior to my trip.
Chairman Mao and President Kaunda forged diplomatic relations not long after Zambia's independence in 1964. The fruit of this partnership was instrumental in helping Zambia construct a railway line called the Tanzania-Zambia Railway. As I stood in that former residence of Chairman Mao and reflected on the wealth of the history around me, I felt proud of the legacy of China and what that meant to me as a Zambian student living in China in light of our shared history.
In the evening, a large-scale live performance was presented at the Red Army Theater, depicting the Long March and a grand overview of the revolution. This was particularly moving as it made me wonder what it must have felt like to live through the day-to-day reality of that period.
I was impressed by the sacrifice and patriotism that prompted young men, many of whom were younger than the average age of our delegation, to join the Red Army and fight for their country against all odds.
Our penultimate stop was the provincial capital of Nanchang, where I had an intriguing experience because the Virtual Reality Industrial Base there was the perfect intersection of cutting-edge technology with the tradition and history of China. It afforded the chance to see China's progress and position on the world stage through a fresh perspective.
Of course, a few days aren't enough to capture the entirety of the nuance and complexity of any nation's history, let alone that of China. However, we got a multifaceted glimpse or kaleidoscopic snapshot of the last 100 years.
I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow alongside people from various backgrounds. I can say that I have gained a better understanding of Chinese history and China's development, particularly as it relates to the difficult course of the CPC in leading the Chinese people, step by step, to today.
Standing on the Yeping revolutionary site in Ruijin, where the Soviet Republic of China was founded in 1931, on the second day of the trip, and observing the faces of people I didn't know a few days earlier, I could not help but think that [for this one moment in time] we were forever bound by a common experience.
I told my fellow delegates: "We are not only here to learn about history, but also to make history..."
The author is a Zambian student at Gannan Medical University in Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province
(Print Edition Title: Experience of a Lifetime)
Comments to email@example.com