Showing posts from April, 2014

April 26th #chinadiary

Visits to two industrial plants today - first of all the Hanyang Iron Works, then the Yangtze Engineering Works. Carl writes up a considered report of the business environment and working conditions, comparing to those in USA and Britain, not always favourably: "God knows that we have given them splendid examples in our own history ... the most abominable conditions (in China) are found in foreign establishments."

Carl finishes his report with a beautiful reflection on the flowers and birds ("its a regular bird paradise") - I love the vividness of his description of "the big fat blue and white magpies".

The next entry will be May 3rd.

April 22nd #chinadiary

Carl's party arrive in Hankow (Hankou) after yet another overnight train ride. Although he's happy to see lots of greenery, he finds that "Hankow is a very uninteresting city to come to. It is as modern and foreign as any city we have seen." This is around the period when Hankou had foreign concessions belonging to United Kingdom, France, Russia, Germany and Japan (the German and Russian concessions had ended by now).

By contrast, the city across the river, Wuchang, is "the most typical old Chinese city you ever saw." It seems odd, given the colonial presence just over the river, but Carl is a little unsettled by constant staring eyes, finding it "hard to get used to being a foreigner."

April 21st #chinadiary

Carl vividly describes conditions in the cotton mill, which is "a good modern factory". Nevertheless "conditions of work are not as good as the factory" and he is clearly outraged by the horrific conditions people have to endure. His beautiful solution, prescient yet for our own age: "what we need are managers who see so many thousand human personalities, every one of them with great possibilities."

April 19th #chinadiary

Morning arrival in Chenghchow (Zhengzhou) "about as dirty as I ever hope to be" (after the rough and ready overnight train journey). Carl not very busy because there isn't much student work in this industrial city. Following Carl's progress across China is a reminder of just how massive a country China is - especially to somebody from UK where an overnight train journey would take me from one end of the country to the other (the internet tells me that 26 UKs can fit into China)...

April 18th #chinadiary

"War, war, and rumors of war. Mostly rumors, to be sure, but exciting, nevertheless." So writes Carl on the train to shikiachuang (Shijiazhuang). This is the 'Warlord Era', a period in the history (1916-1928) when China was divided among military cliques in the mainland regions of Sichuan, Shanxi, Qinghai, Ningxia, Guangdong, Guangxi, Gansu, Yunnan and Xinjiang. Carl is travelling in the midst of various troop movements and does seem more excited than scared - also remarking of the wars that "the pity of it is that there is absolutely no principle involved ... it is simply a struggle for power." This point comes immediately after the extensive discussions about war's justification as part of the conference and other discussions. 

April 17th #chinadiary

Another busy day, meeting and public speaking to two hundred primary school boys, then 1500 soldier students, then a reception for teachers of the city - Carl makes no comment about his speaking engagements and gives the impression of taking it all in his rather confident stride. The day finishes with "a most splendiferous Chinese feast of considerably over twenty courses at the Home of Col. Chou, one of the most interesting men here in Taiyuanfu."

April 16th #chinadiary

More public speaking for Carl - he records his protest at having to lead the Easter service, but he doth protest too much, methinks! The evening sees dinner with "the so-called 'Model Governor' of this model province ... it seemed almost like a story from the Arabian Nights, to be sitting with those walrus-whiskered old Chinese officials."

April 15th #chinadiary

A speaking engagement first thing, which Carl makes very little mention of, perhaps indicating how confident he is in his abilities by now. Then he is a pillion passenger on Dr Hemingway's motorbike - to the amusement of the onlooking Chinese people .They visit two jails, one new and an old one, which is "the filthiest, lousiest hole that I ever care to see." The bikers had two spills on the return journey and back to Taiyuanfu unscathed for another talk "to the foreign community in a little rather informal meeting."

April 14th #chinadiary

On the move again, from Peking to Taiyuanfu, the capital and largest city of North China's Shanxi province. Carl once again casts his agriculturalist's eye over the passing terrain, glad to see green fields and trees again. In particular, he is taken by the quality of the soil, "fine as powder, yet when packed, so strong and unyielding that it will not slide at all even if cut vertically". This quality enables people to easily create houses in the sidehills because of the ease of digging - however, there is a great problem with the amount of dust: "you breathe it and taste it, and it colors your clothes a dull gray, and it fills your mouth and throat - it surely is the real stuff."

April 10th #chinadiary

Today's entry contains the entries and reflections of the last few days, already reported here, as Carl catches up with himself after what has clearly been a challenging and transforming experience.

April 9th #chinadiary

The closing meetings of the conference - and a revisiting of the 'just war' or pacifism in Christianity arguments - it sounds like they were a real sticking point, Carl saying that "at times we felt almost like throwing up the sponge".

After this entry, Carl gives his overall impression of the conference and of the people he encountered there, very finely graded from outstanding to splendid: There have been very few outstanding men at this conference. There has been such a wealth of splendid men that it is hard to pick but a few of the best."

Then Carl reports on the clear impressions he has gotten from the conference:
"the truly remarkable fellowship among the delegates from all over the world has been an education for a narrow, provincial middle westerner like myself to find what splendid men may be hidden behind different labels of nationality.""the student world is absolutely wide awake" - truthful, searching, critical and open-minde…

April 8th #chinadiary

Closing day for the forums - Carl speaks for the American delegation and wanted to disagree with the "Ex Chancellor of the German Empire". He was thrilled with the Russian speakers, telling of their "sublime faith" in spite of (or because of) their hunger, poverty, persecution and martyrdom. Further discussion around the "common mind on the Christian attitude toward international relations" which "didn't get anywhere."

April 7th #chinadiary

Carl Rogers' Day Off.
"Meetings as usual. In the afternoon the conference went in to call upon the president at a reception given by him, but I didn't go as I needed an afternoon to myself worse than I needed to see the president. Had a fine time playing baseball later in the afternoon."

April 6th #chinadiary

Meetings ("rather heavy") in the morning, discussing anti-Christian (or "Xian" as Carl begins to write it here) criticism.

The afternoon sees a trip to the Great Wall at the Nankow Pass, Carl offering a rich description and is astonished by the amount of labour the wall must have taken, especially given the technology of the times. 

April 5th #chinadiary

The business of the conference begins.

8.30-9.45 meeting in the auditorium10-11.15 forums on various 'Problems' - Carl in Social and Industrial Problems11.30-12.30 National messages to Federation
A walk to the Summer Palace in the afternoon ("would look much finer ... cleaned up") , followed by a reception by some of the churches and missions of Peking.

April 4th #chinadiary

The opening of the conference, hosted at Tsin Hua College, now Tsinghua University. A day of settling in to the "very pretty" campus with its "small canal and a little lake right in the compound"

The conference proper opened in the evening.

April 3rd #chinadiary

Carl catches up with his diary today and writes a long entry detailing the work of the General Committee (covered in previous posts here) and his excitement is palpable: "These have certainly been days that I will never forget nor will I ever forget the people."

He then lists the people and their respective delegations from China, Switzerland, India, Japan, France, Holland, Germany, Sweden, USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Greece, the Philippines, Poland, Bulgaria and Russia. Quite a gathering and, as Carl says, "The meetings have most certainly helped us all to attain a truly international mind."