Foreign teachers learn about Nanjing Massacre

  2006-08-01 10:58:10

Xinhua News Agency





    BEIJING, August 1 -- A group of 19 Canadian and American secondary school teachers started a two-day visit yesterday to discover more about the 1937 Nanjing Massacre.

    The group spent most of their time in the Memorial Hall for Compatriots Murdered in the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, reading historical documents and talking with massacre survivors.

    More than 300,000 civilians of China's then capital were killed by invading Japanese troops between December 1937 and January 1938.

    According to members of the group, the visit to the memorial hall enabled them to discover a chapter of history familiar to people in Asia but virtually unknown to many in the West.

    "It is so horrifying to see the atrocity committed by Japanese soldiers as shown in all the pictures and documents in the hall. The routine killing, raping and burning of innocent Chinese people was so unimaginably inhumane," said Janice Gladish, a 29-year-old history teacher from Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada.

    Gladish told China Daily that she had no idea about the massacre until she read about it this April from a special resource reserved for teachers in her local library.

    "Those stories prompted me to apply for this visit, even though the selection from applicants was rigid. The atmosphere and documents here give me a clearer and more vivid picture of the massacre. They are more powerful in expression," she said.

    The interaction with two survivors of the Nanjing Massacre, 78-year-old Xia Shuqin and 79-year-old Chang Zhiqiang, yesterday afternoon added to the gravity of the visit for the teachers.

    "I tried to take many photos to record their expressions while telling their stories. But how can any people understand the pain deep in their hearts? I couldn't help feeling sympathetic," said Andrew Cheung, another member of the group.

    The group, including 17 secondary school teachers from Canada and two from New Jersey in the United States, will spend nine more days in Zhengzhou, Shijiazhuang and Beijing, where they will learn more about Chinese labourers exploited by the Japanese and the international aid to China during World War II. Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu Province, is the second leg of the group's two-week trip.

    The trip is the third in as many years organized by the Association for Learning and Preserving the History of World War II in Asia (ALPHA). It strives to let more educational workers in the western world learn and later teach the chapters missing from Western history books. Donations come from Chinese communities and other charity groups.

    According to Hong Kong-born Thekla Lit, founder of the British Columbia chapter of ALPHA and also leader of the group, people in Canada always adopt the European point of view, but the point of view of Asian people, who also suffered in World War II, should not be neglected for the sake of world peace.

    As Lit hoped, most of the teachers in the group say that the trip has given them a chance to begin discovering and writing a version of history they can then pass on to their students.

    "As a person with a strong sense of social activism, I am for sure going to pass on what the survivors have said today to people around me, including my students. It's never been acknowledged by Western history," said Gladish.Enditem

    (Source: China Daily)