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CC students cross border from Vietnam to China

September 04, 2002
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Meredith Marcus ´04 appears in traditional Dai costume on the cover of the Chinese magazine <I>Da Guan Weekly </I>

Meredith Marcus ´04 appears in traditional Dai costume on the cover of the Chinese magazine Da Guan Weekly

The trip took all of 10 minutes, but it left its mark on the Connecticut College students who made it.

A 100-yard-long bridge separates Laucai, Vietnam, and Hekou, China. Struggling with the luggage they carried for a 19-day excursion, 10 Connecticut College students and two of their professors walked from one country to the other this summer, bridging not two but three cultures in mere steps.

"Crossing the border … was as much a mental act as it was a physical one," said Ariel Polonsky ´03, a dance and environmental science major. "It was quite symbolic. A small bridge, framed by a large arch on the Chinese side, separated the two countries. As we walked across it, I felt that we were creating a kind of human connection."

Only within recent years has the border between the two Communist nations been open to outsiders. The students were on a college-sponsored Travel Research and Immersion Program (TRIP) funded by the Freeman Foundation that began at the end of May. Many of them are dance majors at Connecticut College, working under the tutelage of Lan-Lan Wang, professor of dance, who has a long-standing working relationship with China. Wang helped organize the border crossing to help her students understand the "new reality of the world we live in and the changing global system. We faculty members have not forgotten the past 30 years of wars and tensions among the United States, Vietnam and China," she said. "Leading these students across the Pacific Ocean from West to East and from Vietnam to China gave them an educational experience of crossing many borders in their perceptions of dance, culture, the world and themselves."

Wang worked on this TRIP with Bill Frasure, professor of government and associate dean of the faculty as well as Barbara Zabel, professor of art history. Frasure, who has organized faculty and student exchanges with Vietnam National University (VNU) in Hanoi for several years, made arrangements for Wang´s group in Vietnam and led that portion of the TRIP.

View the dance department site and the East Asian Languages and Cultures site.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Amy Martin, 860-439-2526, or Deborah MacDonnell (860) 439-2504,