An extraordinary find

ROSES AND THORNS - Pia Roces Morato - The Philippine Star

The year 2023 marks the tenth anniversary of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) where over these past years, the BRI forged significant links between member-countries and regions that contributed to the development and welfare of people around the world.

The anniversary of the  Belt and Road Initiative was a global vision and a success story that at the same time coincides with the 20th anniversary of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)-China strategic partnership and the founding of the China-ASEAN expo, marking in whole the extraordinary international collaboration and growth of China.

As part of the fifth China Media Week held last October, the third season of the ASEAN-China Youth Hosts Camp proceeded with full vigor and this was seen in the experiences of our youth who have recently been able to share their stories. On my end, I was also privileged to share as a Filipino how we in the region can support our joint efforts through media that must be focused on helping humanity.

What is even more fascinating was how our very own representative for the ASEAN-China Youth Hosts Camp, Elizabeth Garcia Arce, a student from the Guangxi Arts University, had the opportunity to visit the iconic Elephant Trunk Hill, and inspired a cake that resembles the hill’s distinctive shape, signifying how, in the age of social media and culture, culinary creations have become a work of art. Today, many other people are able to share these edible souvenirs and at the same time explore meaningful cultural traditions where, according to legend, the Elephant Trunk Hill manifested the kind-hearted act of an elephant who came down to earth to help the poor.

Elizabeth Arce, who was part of the Guilin team, is an example of an immersive experience that took mere sightseeing and photo-taking to the next level, where technology helps us transform our travels into more meaningful experiences. Arce and the Guilin team also had the opportunity to venture to Yongfu County, which is home to Caidiao, a traditional tune and ethereal part of Guangxi cultural heritage. It was Arce’s first time to try Chinese opera costumes which helped her learn more about local culture and arts.

The Guilin Opera celebrated in southern China is a beloved art form and the Caidiao is another type of theater in Guangxi province that originated from the singing and dancing traditions of rural Guilin but is livelier and easier to follow as compared to its counterpart. Caidiao stories usually feature romance between men and women as well as the admiration of nature.

Arce said that she found it very interesting to have experienced their live-streaming shows which were effective in promoting as well as preserving intangible cultural heritage. Indeed, technology is taking humanity far and wide. As for other youth hosts and influencers from other regions who clearly highlighted the educational value of live streaming, they learned that such a powerful tool has a long-lasting impact on other youth groups where strengthening knowledge and understanding of other cultures empowers them to come together and build relationships that will heighten development.

Such was in turn the experience of Nan May Thet Khaing from Myanmar and her companions, who visited Guangzhou University and shared their experience in real-time. As part of the Guangzhou team, Nan highlighted her learning on the Maritime Silk Road as an important channel for ancient Chinese foreign trade, connecting economic cooperation between China and countries along the route, as well as signifying a path for cultural exchange that provided a platform for mutual learning and integration of different countries, from past to present.

Meanwhile , the Hanoi field trip explored the rich tapestry of collaboration and influence from China, both seen in the past and present. The team engaged in a city walk using Vietnam’s first light rail metro system which was demonstrative of just one significant project obtained from China’s BRI and Vietnam’s Two Corridors and One Economic Circle plan. An anchor from Hanoi TV, Hoang Quoc Trung, expressed his fascination at the light rail route, saying that he can get to his destination faster with less pollution and zero traffic.

Along the light rail route also stood the Vietnamese Confucian Temple, which proves the long-lasting influence of China’s Confucian teachings during the feudal period in Vietnam. In his reflection, Hoang noted the importance of education and history which must be cultivated in strengthening a nation.

On my end, and as part of Generation X where it is my belief that our job is to be able to connect the older to the younger generations, such stories from our youth are clear testimonies of how connecting ourselves with the rest of the world, particularly in our region, is not only important but also transformative in the sense that when we speak of both diplomacy and development, we are also able to provide inclusivity that not only crosses borders but also inspires inter-generational power in order to create new ways of building relationships between us, our neighbors and the rest of the world.

Having recently expressed my personal experiences to my older son, he was amazed to learn how my generation has become more involved in encouraging inter-generational relationships. I suppose, moving forward, a parent such as myself would be proud to see all these happen in my lifetime.

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