The Asian World Center, an academic research institute at Creighton University, hosted a week-long series of educational events covering art, music, politics and culture.
Director at the AWC and associate professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Maorong Jiang was the main organizer of the events.
“Taking classes with Dr. Jiang cemented my interest and encouraged me to explore these topics in detail,” said Bridget McManamon, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“Dr. Jiang certainly deserves major recognition for organizing all the amazing events and bringing Asian issues and perspectives to the Creighton campus.
The week began at the Skutt Student Center where Jiang stood alongside Wang Yipei, an accomplished writer, poet and researcher who would later be featured as a keynote speaker in a Tuesday evening presentation.
The pair drew attention to the week ahead, inviting students and faculty to take part in the events.
They stood behind a table that displayed copies of Yipei’s book, ‘The Unearthly Temple,’ in which he detailed the photos that were on display in Skutt’s art gallery all week and the stories of his journey that accompanied them. .
The preface to his book reads in part: “Looking back. These old cities submerged in the Yangtze River rise one after another to the surface of the water. They are my home of spirit and emotion – my supernatural temple.
The next day, Yipei gave the opening speech in Mandarin which was translated into English for the audience. Students and professors from different departments, nationalities and races were able to learn from him during this time.
“I think it’s extremely important for students of all majors and disciplines to explore Asian Studies, because we truly live in the ‘Asian Century’, in which the region is experiencing significant growth in terms of power, relevance and global influence,” McManamon said. “In the years to come, knowledge of Asian language, culture and politics will be essential to gaining employment and competing on the global stage.”
Yipei spent eleven years collecting fairy tales, folk songs and stories of villagers before the area was flooded by the Three Gorges Dam.
“These are stories about life […] if I don’t collect them, no one will,” Yipei said.
Yipei argued that if the perspectives of local people had been considered, the dam would not have been built and we could have avoided this environmental and cultural devastation.
“A healthy society has many different voices,” Yipei said.
This 11-year dedication was triggered by an infamous historical event. Yipei witnessed the Tiananmen Square Massacre when he was 27 years old and a student at People’s University. He claims to have been the last person present.
This experience fueled his passion to find a cause to which he could devote his life’s research.
At the end of Yipei’s presentation, the audience expressed their admiration for his work.
AWC events ran throughout the week across campus, including presentations on the Ukraine crisis from an Asian studies perspective, a guest lecture on Asian American success, a Japanese tea ceremony and a final dinner and discussion on the film “American Factory” at the end of the week.