What can be managed in two short weeks in China?
I have discovered and have begun to understand the legal system, traditions and mentality of a country of 1.3 billion people through a group of ten brilliant Chinese students.
I have had both evident questions - about the one child policy, the death penalty, the constitution - and less evident ones - about dispute resolution and the interaction between traditional and modern Chinese law - answered.
I have travelled to five cities, a Hakka village and Nan'ao Island. In each I have gotten a taste for local culture and the Chinese legal system. I have sat in on a property law trial, spoken to judges and civil servants and have visited a Peoples' Mediation Center, an arbitration center and a top Chinese law firm.
I have overcome preconceptions and have had my viewpoint challenged. Canada and China have much to learn from each other.
I have redefined my understanding of hospitality and have felt more welcome haf way around the world than I have ever felt even just a few hundred kilometers from my home.
I have made personal connections and new friends - both from the McGill delegation and Shantou University. I have enjoyed late night discussions on everything from life and religion to politics and law.
Xiexie for it all.
Laeka Ishat Reza
This program has been one of the most enriching educational experiences I have ever had. The combination of classroom lectures, discussions and presentations, coupled with practical visits to Chinese judicial institutions and surrounding cities, has given me a greater understanding of Chinese legal culture than I thought possible in just two weeks. Studying alongside Chinese students gave us many valuable opportunities for cross-cultural exchanges, fierce debates and of course lots of fun.
I will treasure the many new friendships I have developed during this program. The warmth and hospitality of our Chinese hosts touched me, and the beautiful surroundings at STU inspired me.
I truly feel privileged to have participated in this program and wish to sincerely thank everyone who made this possible and a great success.
Tanya De Mello, "Tang -Ya"
The most amazing part of this exchange for me was to witness how many preconceptions and myths were dispelled. You need to visit China to truly understand it. The Chinese justice system is more "grass roots" than many Canadians realized. For example, we studied the importance of mediation here. Mediation is only now coming to the fore in Canada and McGill ran its first mediation course this year. Yet, China has being using mediation within their justice system for decades. Secondly, I think we were also very impressed with the level of insight and knowledge of our Chinese counterparts. They are quick, bright and respectfully critical and they are insatiably curious. I do not doubt that they will play key roles in the development of law here in China. We had intense debates and conversations with them in class, on the bus and late into the evenings. We shared our views on punishment, national policies and family obligations but we also shared our personal experiences and lives with each other. I can say that as a result of this trip, I have a more holistic vision of the Chinese justice system and a better understanding of the Chinese culture. But more than anything, I will return to Canada as someone who cares about what happens in China - when I open the newspaper or when China is brought up in a conversation, it will affect me because it affects people that are now dear friends to me. That is the power of exchange - the world becomes smaller because in knowing and understanding each other, our futures become tied.
I knew very little about China before the start of this program. In the past two weeks, I have learned more about Chinese law, culture and society than I could have learned from any book. This was due in large part to the helpfulness of the STU students and staff. Without them, this program would never have achieved its full potential.
In the classroom, I was surprised to discover that the Canadian and Chinese legal systems often aspire to achieve the same objectives. However, I also learned that similar aspirations do not translate into similar realities. This revelation will serve me well in any profession, legal or otherwise.
Outside the classroom, the excursions and site visits were equally invaluable. For example, during our visit to Dongguan, I was amazed to learn that an individual can have a judgment explained to him / her by the judge. This goes a long way in ensuring a measure of procedural justice.
Put bluntly, these were two of the best weeks of my life.
Finally, I would be remiss to overlook the fact that none of this would have been possible without the generosity of the Li Ka-shing Foundation. Many, many thanks.
Marly Ochmann St-Jean
Coming to China, I wasn't sure what to expect. What I have discovered has blown me away; especially the warmth with which us Canadians were received. The STU students and staff have helped me discover parts of China in a way that would be impossible for the average tourist. I was given the opportunity to meet with legal professionals from all fields of law: arbitration, law firm, court system, professor, etc. I especially appreciated the candidness of all these people when answering my numerous questions. It is undeniable that I have learnt immensely, both within and outside of the classroom, through this program. I now have a much clearer understanding of Chinese culture and law which I proudly bring back with me to Canada. I strongly recommend that keen law students with a thirst for curiosity and adventure experience an exchange such as this one. My interactions with Chinese students have been an invaluable part of my experience and learning; it has helped me better understand the perspective of a younger generation on China and its law in an increasingly globalized world. Understanding past and present is key to future Canadian- Chinese relations. Through this program, we came together. Thank you for this opportunity.
François Le Moine
The Shantou-McGill programme is much more than a simple class; it was an opportunity for myself and my colleagues to meet and dialogue with wonderful professors and students about topics that define our respective legal systems. We also met with lawyers, judges, mediators, arbitrators and officials who openly introduced us to their work and gave us a chance to debate important legal issues.
We not only learned about the Chinese legal system, but about Chinese culture and society. The students were extraordinarily welcoming and were able to convey what China was, and what being Chinese meant, to them. These fruitful interactions were complemented by a number of visits around Guangdong province including trips to Chaozhou, Meizhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan and Nao'Ao Island.
Last but not least, the food was fantastic!
I will fondly remember these two amazing weeks. I have begun what I am certain will be lasting friendships and I can only hope that others will have the chance to learn about Chinese law in such a stimulating environment.
The Shantou-McGill Summer Law Program was by far the best conceived educational experience in which I have had the opportunity to partake. In academic terms, the quality and scope of its curriculum reintroduced China to us all through some of its foremost legal scholars and afforded us a forum for constant dialogue and discussion with students and professors alike. From day till night, we were gifted the chance to sit in a classroom with leading specialists in Chinese law, converse with judges and civil servants, and improve our knowledge of Chinese legal institutions through means of the most privileged order. A tirelessly crafted complementary cultural and touristic programme prompted us to experience our surroundings by engaging headfirst with their history, food, and people. But even more memorable were the friendships forged since the moment we were welcomed by ten students of Shantou University at Waisha Airport. From the dazzling hospitality of the Chinese we shaped a deeper bond, and by the final days of our stay I felt cared for by each and every participant of the programme not merely as an exchange student, but as an individual and as a friend. I left for China hoping to gain an intellectual understanding of my otherwise fractured cultural identity; I returned blessed with a new sense of belonging.
Noah Fangzhou Bian
The Shantou McGill Summer Law Program has been one of the most important academic and cultural experiences in my life. Although I am a Chinese-Canadian myself, the last two weeks have provided me an invaluable learning experience about the legal system and traditions of my native country. Although the academic portion of the program was the focus of the exchange, I think the daily interactions with the Chinese students as well as the numerous site visits were crucial to our understanding of China's legal culture and values that are fundamental to the Chinese people. I have learned a lot from this Program and one can say that the first thing I learned is how much I have yet to know about China. Another very important thing I have learned from this program is the incredible hospitality that Chinese people offer to guests.
This Program allowed us to make lifelong friends with the 10 brilliant and kind young Shantou students who accompanied us everywhere during those two unforgettable weeks. On the last day of the program, we lighted flying lanterns knows as Kong Ming Deng where we write our wishes on a paper and send them off into the heavens. Our wishes were unequivocally for everlasting friendship. The Shantou students came to see us off the morning we left Shantou. As the bus rolled away from our Shantou friends waving us goodbye, a certain thought occurred to me. Two years ago I had gone to Beijing, saw the Olympics and was very proud for China's achievement. After spending two weeks in Shantou, I can say that I felt even more proud for the kindliness, generosity and genuine friendship of the Chinese people.
Marquise Lee Houle
Is the best word to sum up my trip to Shantou University.
If you ask anyone that knew me while I was at the summer exchange program they will use this word. It's the nickname my STU friend and I were given for refusing to be separated on the trip. For me this nickname represents the ultimate friendship between a Canadian and Chinese student. Not only did we participated in numerous event together, shared rooms on the field trips and chatted about our Countries, but we also planned many of our own get-togethers exploring the city and its unique life. I have many memories of laughter, trying new foods and exchanging legal ideas, along with walks to the forbidden East Gate, rides into town and visits to local court houses. With tears in my eyes and Jessica taking a nap beside me as I write this on my way back from Nanao Island, I must admit that although it is time to say goodbye, two weeks can feel like a lifetime of happy memories when in the company of such wonderful people. I am very thankful for the opportunity to participate in this program. There were many people that made this trip possible and the students outdid themselves in hospitality and kindness. The Shantou students that I have become friends with hold a special place in my heart and I insist that we try to meet again by any means possible. J I will never forget this experience. The Shantou campus feels like a small mountain village and we the 20 STU-McGill students came together to form a loving family within its walls.