据南京大学张宏生教授的研究，第一个受聘到哈佛大学任教的中国学者戈鲲化是休宁人，在今天的哈佛燕京图书馆仍然悬挂着戈鲲化的照片。1879年，哈佛大学聘请中国学者戈鲲化为首任汉学教授，开始了哈佛大学最早的中文教学。与此同时，美国汉学家卫三畏（Samuel Wells Williams）在耶鲁大学执掌汉学教席。作为在美国大学最早教授汉学的中美两国学者，戈鲲化与卫三畏切磋学术，结下了深厚的友谊。据北京外国语大学顾钧教授的考证，卫三畏曾向戈鲲化请教清朝官服为何有108颗朝珠的问题，得到戈鲲化引经据典的回复；戈鲲化亦盛赞卫三畏为西方人士学习中文而编写的《汉英韵府》，成为他学习英文和从事翻译工作的重要工具书。戈鲲化还写过一首诗送给卫三畏：“皇都春日丽，偏爱水云乡。绛帐遥相设，叨分凿壁光。”“绛帐遥相设”，就是对卫三畏和戈鲲化分别在耶鲁和哈佛教授汉学的比喻。
赵一凡教授是1949年以来第一个拿到哈佛大学文科博士学位的中国大陆学者，他在中国和美国的老师分别是“学术昆仑”钱锺书先生和美国“中国学之父”费正清（John King Fairbank）先生。赵一凡教授受钱锺书先生和费正清先生影响颇深，这十几年来一直埋头苦读，奔走中国西部边疆考察，立志写出一本与费正清《美国与中国》相媲美的学术著作《中国与美国》。赵一凡教授对休宁中学非常关爱，曾经在休宁中学迁址万安新棠邨一百周年之际来休中，作以中国西部边疆考察为主题的学术报告，休中学子的勤勉问学也给赵老师留下深刻的印象。去年夏天，赵一凡教授还把他在哈佛大学获得的博士学位袍专门捐献给了休宁县状元博物馆。雅礼教师司友林现场见证仪式，休中学生金利有幸试穿赵先生的博士袍，接受赵先生的拨穗礼。映衬着他们身影的是“平政堂”前的那幅楹联：“千载结绳数天下状元几许，九牧分野看邑中人物如何。”那一刻令人动容。
Scholars give lectures, miles apart,
At Xintang Yale-China grows and multiplies.
—Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Cooperation between the Yale-China Association and Xiuning Middle School
In 2006, the Yale-China Association signed a formal cooperation agreement with my alma mater, Xiuning High School. Each year, through a rigorous and standardized selection process, the Yale-China Association chooses two outstanding Yale University graduates whose native language is English, and trains them as visiting English teachers at Xiuning High School for two years. At the same time, Xiuning High School helps the Yale-China Association teachers involved in this project learn Chinese language and culture. The project itself has three main missions: to improve the level of English language instruction at Xiuning High School, help the teachers and students at Xiuning High School gain a better understanding of contemporary American culture and American people, and increase the Yale-China Association teachers’ understanding of Chinese culture and Chinese people. In the blink of an eye, ten years have passed since the project first began. I graduated from Xiuning High School in 2000, and did not have the fortune of personally experiencing the project. Mr. Li Shunbao, Xiuning High School Principal, asked me to write a preface to this album. Approaching with great amount of trepidation, I put forth only my identity as a Huizhou scholar and alumnus of Xiuning High School to write a congratulatory message for the 10th – or better yet “tin wedding” – anniversary of the Yale-China Association and Xiuning High School.
The Yale-China Association is a non-profit organization originally formed by graduates of Yale University in 1901. For over a hundred years, it has focused on the development of education and health services in China by promoting the exchange of people and culture between China and the United States. The predecessor to Xiuning High School was the Second Normal School established by Anhui Province in 1912. It was the birthplace of modern education in the Huizhou region. An overview of the last ten years of cooperation between the Yale-China Association and Xiuning High School has revealed an extraordinary discovery: the fateful and enduring union between Huizhou, Xiuning, and Yale University first emerged as early as over a century ago.
In 1854, Rong Hong graduated from Yale University, becoming the first overseas Chinese student to have done so from an American university. He was deeply involved in the historical process of China’s modernization efforts. Upon returning to China, Rong Hong sent Chinese students to study abroad in America, successfully rallying the likes of Zeng Guofan, Li Hongzhang, and other major figures instrumental in erecting the renaissance of China. Zhan Tianyou, a native of Wuyuan, Huizhou, was part of those who had immigrated to America as young children, and later also graduated from Yale University. After returning home, he presided over the homegrown design and construction of China’s first railway line, the Beijing-Zhangjiakou Railway, and subsequently became known as the “father of China’s railways.”
Based on research done by Professor Zhang Hongsheng from Nanjing University, the first Chinese scholar at Harvard University was Ge Kunhua, who was from Xiuning. A portrait of Ge Kunhua still hangs inside the Harvard-Yenching Library. In 1879, Harvard University recruited Ge Kunhua as its first China studies professor, initiating Harvard’s earliest teachings of Chinese language. At the same time, the American sinologist Samuel Wells Williams was head of China studies at Yale University. As two scholars – one from China and the other from the U.S. – who were pioneers in the field of sinology, Ge Kunhua and Samuel Williams naturally engaged in academic exchanges and forged a profound friendship. According to research from Professor Gu Jun of Beijing Foreign Studies University, Mr. Williams once asked Ge Kunhua why official Qing Dynasty robes had exactly 108 beads of pearl and got a academic answer full of citations from books and scholarly articles; Ge Kunhua praised Mr. Williams for compiling A Syllabic Dictionary of the Chinese Language for Westerners to study Chinese. This became an important tool through which Ge Kunhua studied English and conducted translation work. Ge Kunhua had even written a poem for Samuel Williams: “Spring is beautiful in the imperial capital, I favor instead the water and clouds of my hometown. / We both give lectures, far far away, I studied diligently with the help of your book,” which seems to be an apt metaphor for Samuel Williams and Ge Kunhua teaching China studies at Yale and Harvard respectively.
When Xiuning High School was in the early stages of construction, it was determined to harvest traditional and contemporary, as well as Chinese and international, educational principles. The lyrics from the school anthem of Xiuning’s predecessor school pronounced it so: “Old ways should be discussed, and new knowledge should be mastered, to sow the seeds of civilization. From Ziyang to Haiyang, Western Europe and the United States, all smelted in one furnace, to double the atmosphere of the extraordinary.” The anthem continues to be sung to this day. Xiuning High School sits between Yellow Mountain and Qiyun Mountain, and was first established in period of the “Second Normal School,” during which American scholars were invited to visit and give lectures. In March 1919, American scholar Dr. Martin arrived at the Second Normal School and taught students conversational English. Among the first class of “Second Normal” pupils were Zhang Zhaohuang, Cheng Yingming, and Ke Qingshi, whose diaries gave detailed records of those times. The library scientist Hong Fanwu was the first Chinese person to work at the Library of Congress in the United States, and his hometown is incidentally Wan’an Sang Village, not far from the Xiuning High School campus. While studying abroad in the United States, Hong Fanwu corresponded by letters with then-Xiuning High School principal Hu Jinjie, offering guidance on the construction of the “Second Normal” library, and recommending subscriptions to both Chinese and Western magazines such as American Physical Education. After returning to China to teach, Hong Fanwu even made a special visit to Xiuning High School to give the lecture “Education in the Library.”
Diplomacy between two nations depends on the closeness between its peoples. As such, cultural exchange, mutual political trust, and mutual promotion in economics and trade collectively form the three main pillars in Sino-U.S. relations. Since 2010, mechanisms for greater culture exchange between China and the U.S. were established and thus served an important purpose in building new relations between the two major powers. In the long history of Sino-U.S. cultural exchange, Xiuning High School alumni have offered many anecdotes. Alumnus Zhang Fengkeng received his doctorate in the U.S., and later became the first Chinese to set foot on Antarctica in 1958. In recognition of Dr. Zhang Fengkeng’s scientific contributions from surveying the South Pole, the U.S. government named a mountain peak in the Antarctica after him. Xiuning High School alumnus Nie Shengzhe also studied abroad in America and made in-depth investigations into various aspects of the American economy, society, and culture. After coming back, he upheld the values of “finely made in China” and achieved much in his business and civilian education. Nie Shengzhe’s written works Snapshots of America and Introduction to American Wood Frame House are popular paperbacks that offer an introduction to American culture. In 2006, former Chairman Hu Jintao gave as a present a set of Chinese classical works to Yale University during his visit to Yale. A photo documented that moment in history: As Chairman Hu was handing the collection to the professors and students of Yale University, then-visiting scholar and Xiuning High School alumnus Dr. Song Guoyou was standing by his side. Today, Song Guoyou is a well-known professor of international relations and Sino-U.S. relations at Fudan University.
There have been ten years of cooperation between the Yale-China Association and Xiuning High School; it takes ten years to grow a tree but one hundred years to rear a generation of people. The “tin wedding” of the Yale-China Association and Xiuning High School have witnessed many fruits of labor. Wu Yufei, the 2007 top scorer in science in the university entrance examinations of Anhui Province, was one of the first group of students who benefited from the Yale-China Association’s collaboration with Xiuning High School. After graduating from the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University, she attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to further her studies. Ms. Wu will be receiving her doctorate degree this coming summer. Huizhou was one of the torch relay stations during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Yale-China Association teacher Wyatt Golding and Xiuning High School teacher Yuan Yurong jointly received the Olympic torch, leaving a permanent imprint of the Yale-China Association and Xiuning High School on the Beijing Olympic torch relay. Each year, the teachers from Yale would lead students of Xiuning High School in hosting Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and a series of other cultural activities, such as rehearsing English musicals, all of which left deep impressions. It is especially worth mentioning that under the joint efforts of the Yale-China Association and Xiuning High School, local student Hu Yunying successfully joined the Yale Young Global Scholars and won a full scholarship to attend the study program at Yale University. This year, He Jiyuan, Tu Yufei, and Wang Xue also received full scholarships for the program. For a provincial-level demonstration high school where most of its students come from rural areas, these are unbelievable achievements.
Professor Zhao Yifan was the first Chinese to receive a doctorate in liberal arts from Harvard University since 1949, and his mentors in China and the United States were the formidable scholars Mr. Qian Zhongshu and the “father of China studies,” Mr. John King Fairbank. Under the immeasurable influence of both scholars, Professor Zhao has burrowed into his studies throughout the past decade, traveling across the western borders of China to conduct field research, and is determined to produce a scholarly work entitled China and the United States that will be favorably comparable to Fairbank’s The United States and China. Professor Zhao cares deeply for the students of Xiuning High School. He visited Xiuning during the 100th anniversary celebration of the school’s relocation to Wan’an Xintang Village. He was captivated by the students’ diligence and thirst for knowledge, revealed through their academic reports on China’s western frontiers. Last summer, Professor Zhao even donated his Harvard doctorate degree graduation gown to the Number One Scholars Museum at Xiuning. The local teacher Si Youlin witnessed the donation ceremony, while the student Jin Li had the luck of trying on Mr. Zhao’s doctoral gown and receiving the turn of the tassel from him. Silhouetted against their presence was the couplet hung on the columns of Pingzheng Hall. A truly touching moment.
Next to the “Sincerity and Perseverance” stone tablet on the Xiuning High School campus, there grows an osmanthus tree that was hand-planted by Mr. Zhao Yifan after his speech. The sweetly-scented osmanthus tree is a strong symbol of traditional Chinese culture and has become a legend passed down through thousands of years for the people of the world to take delight in talking about. A forest of osmanthus flowers grows in the Zhushan Academy in Xiong Village, Huizhou; coincidentally, the Cao family living in the village produced two generations of father-son “prime ministers” during the Qing Dynasty. Whenever any of the Cao brothers became a successful candidate in the highest imperial examinations, they would plant an osmanthus tree in the Zhushan Academy. And now, it has blossomed into an entire forest, filling the yards with a distinct saccharine fragrance. Principal Li Shunbao told me that starting from the this 10th anniversary of cooperation between the Yale-China Association and Xiuning High School, and following the lead of Mr. Zhao Yifan, every teacher from Yale will be invited to plant an osmanthus tree. Yale, Harvard, the Yale-China Association, and Xiuning High School are yet again bound together by a poetic union.
As the sweltering summer declares its arrival, the egrets have also arrived at the Xiuning school yard for their annual visit. Soaring between Songluo Mountain, Rock City, and Baihe Brook, their graceful postures are like dancing melodies set against the skyline of Xintang Village, witnessing the growth of yet another young generation. Fusing the verses of Tao Yuanming and Ge Kunhua, I shall boldly contribute four lines as my blessings for the “tin wedding” of the Yale-China Association and Xiuning High School:
Grass sprouting in the first of summer,
Chirps and chants form a palace. Scholars give lectures, miles apart, At Xintang Yale-China grows and multiplies. May 10th, 2016 Wu Zitong in Beijing, nostalgic for my hometown of Xintang