An Enjoyable Summer Back in China

August 18, 2014 | By Meng Shi

Before the start of my third-year at OU Law, I enjoyed a wonderful summer break back in my home country of China. I participated in the Chinese Law Summer Program at Renmin University of China Law School, which is consistently ranked as the top law school in China. Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law hosts the program and OU Law is one of five participating U.S. law schools. From this incredibly wonderful program, I gained a lot of knowledge and insightful understanding of Chinese law, politics, and culture. I knew many of my fellow classmates who were from various U.S. law schools.  It was very meaningful and rewarding to explore Chinese law and experience Chinese culture together with so many talented and energetic students. We went on a variety of fieldtrips which were fantastic components of the summer program. The trips to the National People's Congress and the Supreme People's Court broadened our horizons by providing us a valuable opportunity to take a personal look at China's current political and legal institutions, to think deeply about the challenges China is facing during its ongoing process of improvement of democracy and human rights, and to explore strategies in order to better resolve those pressing issues. 

Another unique opportunity was presented when the Renmin University hosted the 2014 International Forum for Law Students. At this forum, law students from around the world make presentations to each other on up-to-date legal information, cultural aspects of law, and cutting-edge legal issues of their various home countries. I am very honored and pleased to be the first OU Law student to make a presentation in that Forum. The title of my presentation is "Enlightenment from Chinese Cultural Genes and the Modern Rule of Law," which aims to elaborate on the intimate relationship between the traditional Chinese cultural genes and the establishment of modern rule of law in China. 

Being able to perceive and analyze the crucial impact of culture on the legal system and get involved in cross-cultural communication and being able to appreciate the differences among various civilizations are extremely important attributes for today's law students, legal practitioners, and policy-makers in this increasingly interconnected world. I believe exposing a civilization to the evaluation of another civilization can lead to numerous insights and deeper understanding of nuances of different cultures. These insights and deeper understandings cannot be acquired by just indulging in one single culture. They must be gained through dynamic cross-cultural communication and the open and vigorous exchange of diverse ideas. 

In addition, I was honored to be the interpreter for fellow classmates of the program while we visited the Supreme People's Court of China, the highest-level court of China. I also volunteered to make a presentation on "Enlightenment and Inspiration of Tang Dynasty (from 618 AD to 907 AD)." This was a wonderful opportunity for me to present the most glorious and prosperous historical period of China to my American friends. It was designed to inform my fellow American classmates of the brilliance and cultural genes of that splendid era and to facilitate communication and mutual understanding between the U.S. and China.  In addition, I wanted to encourage all of the audience members and myself to think deeply about how to incorporate the eternal wisdom and spiritual power of the Tang Dynasty, such as open-mindedness, inclusiveness, and respect for diversity, into the cause of creating a better world for all the human beings.

After the completion of the Program, my parents and I went to Hangzhou, an extremely beautiful city in southeastern China, for a sightseeing trip. Marco Polo, a world-famous Italian traveler during the era of Yuan Dynasty (from 1271 AD to 1368 AD), described Hangzhou as one of the most elegant cities in the world of that time. As a World Heritage Site, the West Lake of Hangzhou is a symbol of idealized combination of natural environment and human beings’ lifestyle, and wonderful fusion between splendid culture and spectacular scenic beauty. I sat near the West Lake and stood inside the surrounding historic Buddhist temples, gazing at the picturesque landscape and immersing myself in the quiet meditation about the traditional Chinese cultural essence. That was truly a miraculous feeling in such a bustling and fast-paced society.

After enjoying this great summer break in China, I have come back to the beautiful campus of OU and I am prepared to enthusiastically embrace the upcoming third-year J.D. studies! 

Meng Shi
J.D. Candidate, Class of 2015, The University of Oklahoma College of Law

Hubin Road adjacent to the world-famous West Lake of Hangzhou, China
Yi He Yuan, the Qing Dynasty's Summer Palace in Beijing


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