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On Friday, March 18th, 2016 the William & Mary Confucius Institute held a special China Night. That night, Professor Qiong Yang and Office Assistant Gillie Cuda talked about two cities in Southwest China: Chengdu and Chongqing. Professor Yang hails from Chengdu, and Gillie Cuda studied abroad in Chongqing for a year at Chongqing University
First, Professor Qiong Yang discussed Chengdu's history, culture, geography and various aspects of daily life. Visitors were stunned by the long cultural legacy of Chengdu as well as the laid-back lifestyle enjoyed there. Many attendees were amazed by the vast array of beautiful scenic areas as well as the influence that ancient culture still has to this day. For example, she talked about an ancient Chinese disk made of gold foil with divine bird patterns cut into the outside edge which is used as a symbol on a bridge and taxi cabs in the city today. Visitors enjoyed pictures of Broad and Narrow Alleys, the Marquis of Wu’s Tomb (Zhuge Liang’s), giant as well as baby panda bears, and street food such as suanlafen – sour, spicy rice noodles.
Gillie Cuda then presented on Chongqing and gave a brief introduction to the origin of the city's name, the history, culture, and geography. Visitors to WMCI learned that Chongqing literally means, “double/renewed celebration” as the city was named for Crown Prince Zhao Dun’s double coronation to become King and Emperor in 1189 during the Song dynasty. Gillie Cuda then presented using a selection of his more than 10,000 pictures of Chongqing to introduce many scenic spots and foods. Some highlights were the Hongyadong "stilt houses" on the northern coast of the peninsula, as well as the Three Natural Bridges karst scenic nature area. Contrary to its name though, Hongyadong “stilt houses” no longer houses any residents and is built up as a shopping center with local handicrafts and delicious delicacies. Gillie Cuda also displayed many pictures of Chongqing hotpot, Chongqing hundun/chaoshou or “ravioli,” Wanzhou Cooked Fish, and Chili Pepper Chicken, which can be ordered at Peter Chang’s under the name of “Shan City Chili Pepper Chicken,” as Chongqing is known as the mountain city in Chinese.
William & Mary pre-veterinary student Leanne Riso ’18 remarked, “I enjoyed his stories of specific places he visited best,” his descriptions “really let me see the city as if I had visited it myself.”
At the end of both presentations, time lapse videos of both cities were shown. Riso enjoyed this part as, “they really brought the cities to life for me.” Pizza was served and the packed room of visitors was hesitant to leave, continuing to ask Professor Yang and Gillie Cuda questions about the two cities.