In response to the “Belt and Road” initiative advocated by President Xi Jinping, and to promote the “double first-class” construction of the Photography School in the new situation, from June 13 to June 21, 2017, Li Jin – Sub-dean of the International School, Cao Ting – Sub-dean of the Photography School and Cheng Tieliang – Head of the Media and Video Production Teaching and Research Group of the Photography School led six students to visit Malaysia. They had an extensive and deep exchange with SCCA of Malaysia, and combined the practice and learning to conduct photography creation of culture and land form.
This visit does not only involves the academic exchanges and educational cooperation with Malaysia, but also involves a series of photographic practice and photography creation based on the idea of “advancing with the times, forging ahead, being in line with the international standards”. Although the exchange was short, but the visit was rich. The teaching management experience of the universities in Malaysia and the local customs and practices touched us a lot. And this visit is now summarized as follows:
I. Visit SCCA and construct a culture bridge between two countries
On the morning of June 13, 2017, we arrived in the first station of this visit - Kuala Lumpur, where we visited SCCA established by the Malaysian Chinese. Professor Xie Fei of BAF is the honorary president of this university. Mr. Luo Chunming – Datuk and CEO of this university, and Jiao Feng – Dean of the School of Film and Television of this university warmly received us. The teachers of the two universities had an in-depth talk. They pointed out that BFA and SCCA should establish a long-term friendship relationship, gather the forces of two universities to jointly create excellent artistic works, and stressed that with SCCA as the channel, the Chinese film could be brought to Malaysia to make the Malaysian people know the current situation and development speed of Chinese film and television, including the works of BFA’s students. During the talk, They also said that the program can consider Malaysia as the breakthrough point to drive the cultural communication between China and other countries on the “Belt and Road”, like Indonesia and Thailand.
(The teachers of BFA and SCCA had a talk.) (Mr. Luo Mingchun gave a speech at the exchange meeting.)
Besides, the teachers of BFA introduced the development history and prospect of BFA, making the Malaysian people know more about the development of Chinese film and academic education system. During the exchange, BFA sincerely invited the Malaysian students to apply for BFA, and the teachers patiently answered the questions and puzzles of the students and parents about the application for BFA and explained the relevant preferential policies for the international students studying in China. Besides, the students of two countries also exchanged their works, which broadened the photographic perspective of these students and strengthen the intercommunication and cooperation between two parties.
The students of BFA also entered the teaching classroom to experience the unique teaching method of SCCA and started the clashes between different cultures of two countries.
(Mr. Li Jin of BFA gave a speech at the exchange meeting.) (The students of SCCA Makeup Class was having a class)
On the second day, we had an exchange about the education of the arts film and photography of two countries. Then, led by Mr. Luo Chunming, we went deep into Kuala Lumpur for photographic practice. At Chinatown, we took pictures showing the local customs and practices; at the Central Market, Independence Square, Jalan Lembah Perdana and Putrajaya Administration Center, we took pictures of the urban landscape in different lights and atmospheres. We combined the photographic practice and creation, and recorded many vestiges full of the long-standing historical and cultural features of Kuala Lumpur.
(Wang Shunchen, a student of BFA, shot the teaching process of SCCA). (The students of SCCA Hairstyle Class was having a class.)
II. Trace the origin and deeply explore the Nyonya culture
In the early 16th century, men in the coastal areas of China made voyages to the Atlantic by way of Malaysia, and did business in Malacca. In order to continue the industry, they produced offspring with the local women. These men are called Baba and women are called Nyonya, so this group of people are collectively called “Baba-Nyonya”, “Nyonya” for short.
(The teachers and students learned the history of Nyonya from the local photographer Lai Yaorong.)
(The teachers and students took pictures of Malacca Town in early morning.)
Today, Nyonya still exists in Malacca, Penang and Singapore. The Nyonya group still preserves the most primitive Chinese traditions, but the Nyonya culture has become out of sight. In this visit, we considered tracing the origin of Nyonya culture as a key social practice project and took photos in Malacca.
On June 16, we learned the history and current development situation of Nyonya from the local Chinese photographer Lai Yaorong. Then, we went to Jonker Street, where we took pictures of environmental portraits of the local seal cutting artist Tan Zihao, and conducted landscape creation at Jalan Tokong, Jalan Tukang Emas and Jalan Carpenter to go deep into the local culture and understand the current society of Malacca. Besides, the teachers and students made use of aerial photography technology, trying to find different photographic perspectives. We overlooked Malacca Town and took shocking pictures.
(Site of Melaka World Heritage City) (The students of BFA practiced taking pictures.)
On the fourth day, Mr. Li, a Nyonya descendant and Chinese collector, invited us to his private museum, explained the Nyonya culture enthusiastically and carefully, conveyed the first-hand information about Nyonya to us, and presented his private cultural relics and collections. These beautiful articles seemed to tell the history of Nyonya. The teachers and students conducted still life photography of these collections, leaving the trace of history in the cameras for ever. The local Chinese photographer Lai Yaorong invited the local Nyonya descendants to put on the traditional Nyonya clothes. Based on the existing natural light, we made professional artificial supplementary lighting to make the photos more delicate and richer in layers, and we took the authentic pictures of Nyonya. During these activities, we felt the unchanged flavor of Chinese tradition, and had a resonance of the same blood with different nationalities.
Although many details of the Nyonya are unknown, the Nyonya descendants still live in every corner of the world, and the traditional Chinese culture also exists in all aspects of the Chinese descendants. This visit makes our works have profounder humanistic characteristics.
(The teachers and students took pictures of Nyonya girls.) (Mr. Li, a Nyonya descendant, explained the Nyonya clothes to us.)
After the social practice in Malacca, because of the tight schedule, we returned to Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 2:00am regardless of rain, and flied to the next station of the social practice – Sabah.
III. Walk into the east and experience the simple style of the fishing village
At 7:00am on June 18, we arrived at the transfer station Kota Kinabalu International Airport after flying two and a half hours, and then, we got on the coach and started our 7-hour journey. On the way, the temperature sharply fell to 15℃ from 40℃; we went through the plains and also the plateau, and the bright sunny sky and rainstorm appeared alternately. We stopped on the mountain road, and took pictures of tropical scenery with the help of winding road, high mountain and changing climate.
(The teachers and students went to sea with the fishermen in early morning, taking pictures.)
(Zhang Xiaohe, a student of BFA, learned to make Bruneian cakes and pastries.)
We went over Crocker Range, Kundasang and Ranau Mountain just for looking for the most authentic fishing village culture. At 5:00am, along with the faint light, the teachers and students went to sea with the local fishermen to go fishing. Overcoming the seasickness, the students didn’t only took pictures of island scenery full of Malaysian style, but also took pictures containing stories of the fishermen in combination with the experience of the fishermen. We personally experienced the hardships and joys of the fishermen, making the works full of emotions. In order to look for more materials of shooting, we drove to the local fish market and took pictures of styles and features of the primitive bazaars. We also went to learn the traditional Bruneian cakes and pastries from the local aboriginals. Two girls learned to make them personally as our representatives while the other students took pictures. In the evening, we took the wooden boat and visited the rainforest. On the way, we chased the glowworms on both banks and felt the romantic poetry, which greatly enriched our materials of shooting.
On the second day in Sabah, we went to Jambanga Island – an undeveloped zone and primitive indigenous island by boat.
(A corner of Jambanga Islands) (Group photo of teachers and students of BFA and the local village head and villagers)
Apart from the yachtsmen who rested here on the way, we were the first external visitors of Jambanga Island, visitors from China, so the villagers felt fresh and were enthusiastic. Li Jin –Sub-dean of the International School gave the souvenir of BFA and the village head also left the historical name on our notebooks. Led by the village head, we took photos full of simple local customs and practices, captured the pure eyes of the children and the villagers’ primitive life on the island. We also went to the Tiga Island where the fishermen rested and berthed to carry out snorkeling. And our cameras were equipped with waterproofing kit, so we conducted underwater photographic creation, and took pictures of groups of tropical aquatic creatures and beautiful underwater world. We also took out the heavy aerial photography equipment to practice aerial photography with this lonely island on the Pacific Ocean as the practice site, which greatly enriched the shooting materials of this visit.
(The teachers and students of BFA made preparations for underwater photography.)
(Aerial pictures of the lonely island taken by the teachers and students of BFA)
The teachers and students crossed the eastern and western parts of Malaysia, went deep to learn the local customs and practices, conducted a lot of photographic practice creations, collected the pictures with the historical and cultural characteristics of Malaysia from the most visual, authentic and convincing perspectives.
IV. Visit Xiamen University Malaysia
In the last few hours before returning to China, the Datuk Mr. Luo Chunming and Dean Jiao Feng accompanied us to Xiamen University Malaysia. This is the first branch school the Chinese universities established in the countries along the “Belt and Road” with exclusive investment. Premier Li Keqiang once made an investigation on the construction and teaching planning of the branch school. Ms. Li Xiaowen – Vice President of the branch school, Zhang Ying – the President Assistant of the branch school, and Dr. Wang Changsong – Director of Department of Communication of this branch school introduced the establishment process and current teaching situation of the Xiamen University Malaysia. It makes us intuitively learn and absorb the foreseeable idea and experience of enrolling students in South Asian countries by opening branch schools.
(Xiamen University Malaysia) (Group photo of us and leaders of Xiamen University Malaysia)
V. Summarize the achievements and look forward to the future
In the 10-day trip, we stayed on land for seven and a half days. We went to Kuala Lumpur, Malacca and Sabah. The teachers and students crossed the eastern and western parts of Malaysia, went deep to learn the local customs and practices and look for the local authentic folk culture. We went through the mountain roads, water routes and air roads, overcame the difficulties from bad weather and poor geological conditions and deeply explored the cultural connotation. This is an experience that the local people of Malaysia never experience. In response to the tenet of “Walk and Discovery” of the Photography School of BFA, the students participating in this social practice had a deeper understanding and broader horizon. All the students and teachers conducted a lot of photographic creations, applied what they learned in classroom into the practice, collected and took very rich photos. And they will present the most visual, authentic and convincing pictures to the public recently.