Merrimack College in Shanghai

The Experience

Shanghai is a large bustling city full of rich history in every little nook and cranny.  Yet, at the same time it is paving the way for the future as well in fashion, art, music, food, business, technology, science, architecture and so much more.  Check out our CAPA Shanghai Blog and Instagram below to see what CAPA students have to say.

Latest Posts from Shanghai

  • Why I Love My Marketing Internship in Shanghai
    In this week's vlog, Rachel Epp tells us about her marketing internship in Shanghai, highlighting what company she works for, the kinds of projects she's worked on, and the diverse and global workplace she's been learning from.  read more
    2018-11-13
  • Finding Peace with Nature During My Semester in China
    In this post, Nicole talks about her experience visiting Guilin, a city in central China, and how this trip led her to connect with nature. It wasn’t until the trip to Guilin that I realized my love for nature and how happy I was to be read more
    2018-11-12
  • Seeing The Great Wall of China
    In this week's vlog, Daniel takes you along on this once-in-a-lifetime experience where he and the rest of the CAPA Shanghai cohort make the break by taking a hike up to the top of the Great Wall of China! read more
    2018-11-08

Latest Posts on Instagram

Multicultural Shanghai

Multiculturalism is the co-existence of diverse cultures, where culture includes racial, religious, or cultural groups and is manifested in customary behaviours, cultural assumptions and values, patterns of thinking, and communicative styles.”

Source: The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions November 2013

History of Shanghai

If you translate Shanghai literally it means “City on the sea.” In 1842 Shanghai was known as a small fishing village located along the Yangzi River in the western region of China. After the first Opium War China signed the Treaty of Nanking with the British agreeing to open five ports. Soon after the British first British consul moved to Shanghai. It quickly became one of the most important and modern ports in the Asia. They exported tea, silk, and porcelain to Europe and America while importing opium. Due to the demand of trading taking place in Shanghai many banks began to establish in the area transforming Shanghai into an international economic center.

In 1848 and 1849 both the French and the Americans established settlements in Shanghai therefore, transforming Shanghai into a diverse city in a few short years. Shanghai was one of the few cities in the world that did not require a visa upon entrance. Therefore, after the Revolution in Russia and emergence of Nazi Germany many Russians and Jews began to seek refuge in Shanghai. Through the mid-20th century the population grew to approximately 3 million. In 1937 the Japanese began to bomb Shanghai taking control of the eastern coast, which was then followed by the British and American conceding their settlements to Chinese rule. The Japanese were eventually defeated by the Allied Powers ending all foreign control in Shanghai however, many foreigner were sent to prison camps or out of the country during this time.

Soon after, in 1949, China was officially named the People’s Republic of China and forced under communist rule. Since then Shanghai has developed into a thriving city, home to the World Financial Centre and 23 million people.

Take a look at this timeline of Chinese history from Columbia University.

Fascinating Statistics about China

When studying abroad language or culture barriers will always be present and how to manage them will be a beneficial learning experience. One challenge you might face is finding information on certain topics in your native language. Although there are numerous statistics about China published and easily accessible thanks to the internet many of them were not in English, so here is what we could find.

The CIA World Factbook reports that the Chinese Government officially recognizes 56 ethnic groups. Among those groups 91.6% identify as Han Chinese, 1,3% as Zhuang, and 7.1% as other (including but not limited to Hui, Manchu, Uighur, Miao, Yi, Tujia, Tibetan, Mongol, Dong, Buyei, Yao, Bai, Korean, Hani, Li, Kazakh, Dai and other nationalities). According to the Beijing Review foreigners were surveyed for the first time in 2010 demonstrating the following:

  • Top 3 Foreign Nationalities: South Korean, American, and Japanese
  • Cities in China with the highest number of foreign nationals: Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou

 

Foreign NationalsSource: WikiMedia-Danaman5

The official language of China is Mandarin however, China is a large country with numerous provinces and autonomous regions that are home to different dialects of Mandarin as well as other languages.

  • Recognized Religions in China: Buddhism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam, and Protestantism
  • Top Religions in China: Buddhist 18.2%, Christian 5.1%, Muslim 1.8%, folk religion 21.9%, Hindu < 0.1%, Jewish < 0.1%, other 0.7% (includes Daoist (Taoist)), unaffiliated 52.2%

When looking at these statistics it is important to note that the Chinese Communist Party is officially atheist and only recognizes five official religions. In addition, CNN Travel reports that according to the 2010 census there were 23 million people living in Shanghai and approximately 40% of which was migrant workers.

As mentioned previously the Chinese government recognizes 56 ethnic groups, take a look at artist Chen Haiwen’s collection “Harmonious China: A Sketch of China’s 56 Ethnicities.”

Reflect: What are some various methods to study and learn about multiculturalism, other than looking at demographic statistics?

People in China

People in China and particularly Shanghai have a very interesting cultural heritage due to immigration however, it is difficult to see in the demographic statistics since Shanghai only recently began collecting data on immigrants in 2010. It does shine through when studying the history of the 56 different ethnicities in China. Here we present a few to offer a better understanding of the multicultural presence.

Han Chinese

According to the New World Encyclopedia Han Chinese is considered one of the largest ethnic groups in the world. In the English language, the Han are often referred to as simply “Chinese.” Whether or not the use of the term Chinese correctly or incorrectly refers only to Han Chinese often is the subject of debate. There is considerable genetic, linguistic, cultural, and social diversity among the subgroups of the Han, mainly due to thousands of years of immigration and assimilation of various regional ethnicities and tribes within China.

The name Han comes from the Han Dynasty, which succeeded the short-lived Qin Dynasty that unified China. The Han Dynasty’s first emperor was originally known as the king of the region of ‘Han Zhong’, which is where the word is derived. Han, as a word in ancient China, especially in classical literary Chinese, can also mean the Milky Way, or as people in ancient China called it, the “Heavenly River.”

Manchu

The Manchu people are a Tungusic people who originated in Manchuria (today’s northeastern China). During their rise in the 17th century, with the help of the Ming dynasty rebels (such as general Wu Sangui), they came to power in China and founded the Qing Dynasty, which ruled China until the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, and established a republican government in its place. The number of Chinese today with some Manchu ancestry is quite large.

The Manchu ethnicity has largely been assimilated with the Han Chinese. The Manchu language is almost extinct, is now spoken only among a small number of elderly people in remote rural areas of northeastern China and a few scholars; there are around ten thousand speakers of Sibe (Xibo), a Manchu dialect spoken in the Ili region of Xinjiang. In recent years, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in Manchu culture among both ethnic Manchus and Han. The adoption of favorable policies towards ethnic minorities (such as preferential university admission and government employment opportunities) has encouraged some people with mixed Han and Manchu ancestry to re-identify themselves as Manchu.

Interesting Read: The Manchus ruled China into the 20th century, but their language is nearly extinct

Aspects of Manchu customs and traditions can be seen in local cuisines, language and customs in today’s Manchuria as well as cities in that region. After the fall of the Ming Dynasty, Manchus also adopted many Han customs and traditions.

Traditionally, they coiled their hair in high tufts on top of their heads, wore earrings, long gowns and embroidered shoes. The women with higher social standing wore silk and satin clothing while cotton clothing was worn by women of lower social standing. Variants of such costumes are still popular all over China. The man’s clothing once consisted of a short and adjusted jacket over a long gown with a belt at the waist to facilitate horse-riding and hunting.

Hui Chinese

In modern People’s Republic of China, the term “Hui people” refers to one of the officially recognized 56 ethnic groups into which Chinese citizens are classified. Under this definition, the Hui people are defined to include all historically Muslim communities in the People’s Republic of China that are not included in China’s other ethnic groups.

The Hui people are of varied ancestry, many of whom are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers. Their ancestors include Central Asian, Arabs, Persian, Han Chinese, and Mongols. Several medieval dynasties, particularly the Tang Dynasty and Mongol Yuan Dynasty encouraged immigration from predominantly-Muslim Persia and Central Asia, with both dynasties welcoming traders from these regions and appointing Central Asian officials. In the subsequent centuries, they gradually mixed with Mongols and Han Chinese, forming the Hui people. However, certain names common among the Hui can be understood as Chinese renderings of common Muslim (i.e. Arabic), Persian, and Central Asian names (for instance, “Ma” for “Muhammad”).

Most Hui are similar in culture to Han Chinese with the exception that they practice Islam, and have some distinctive cultural characteristics as a result. For example, as Muslims, they follow Islamic dietary laws and reject the consumption of pork, the most common meat consumed in Chinese culture. In addition, they have also given rise to their variation of Chinese cuisine, Chinese Islamic cuisine and Muslim Chinese martial arts. Their mode of dress differs primarily in that men wear white caps and women wear headscarves or (occasionally) veils, as is the case in most Islamic cultures.

Reflect: Who do you think your neighbors will be in Shanghai?

Religion in China

As previously mentioned, the Chinese government recognizes the following religions: Buddhism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam, and Protestantism. Although these religions are recognized many regulations are set in place by the government. The following clip explains what it is like to practice a recognized religion in and outside the boundaries of the government.

Underground Chinese Church Goes Public

It is said that Islam is one of the oldest practicing religions in China and Shanghai is home to approximately seven mosques.

“The congregation was started by Nanjing Hui Muslims who migrated to Shanghai. When the area was heavily Hui, the mosque was a center of cultural life.”

Read more at Take a stroll through Shanghai’s mosque route.

Throughout the time of Nazi Germany many Jews from around the world fled to Shanghai because it was an open port where you did not need visa for entrance or residency. Upon the arrival of the Communist party and World War II a large majority of the Jewish immigrants migrated to other countries. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of the population in Shanghai with their story portrayed through the following clips.

The Jews in Shanghai and Hong Kong-A History

 

Jewish Community Returns to Shanghai

Go Beyond

Ready to learn more?!

At CAPA we appreciate the diverse backgrounds and interests of our students! We have compiled a list of resources to help you feel more at home in your new city. Included you’ll find information regarding major news sources and things to do in Shanghai. You’ll also find resources for students going abroad as an LGBTQ student, students with a disability, students who have dietary restrictions, and students who are wondering how their racial and ethnic identity may be impacted in their new city.

This is only a brief introduction to your city and all it has to offer so please reach out to your program manager with any specific questions or concerns. At CAPA we pride ourselves on our ability to meet individual student needs and go above and beyond to ensure we offer the best student experience abroad possible!

Major news sources
Location specific “Things to Do”
Religious services
LGBTQ Community Resources
Community Resources on Race and Ethnicity
Disabilities Abroad
Food resources: Dietary restrictions


Major news sources

Location specific “Things to Do”

Religious Services and Resources

LGBTQ Community Resources

Community Resources on Race and Ethnicity

Disabilities Abroad

Food resources: Dietary restrictions


Have Questions?

Holly Oppel

Program Manager

hoppel@capa.org or 1 (800) 793 - 0334

 

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