Sixteen foreign families read poems written by Tang Dynasty (618-907) poet Du Fu when visiting his former residence in Qingyang district in Chengdu.
Du lived for four years in the city to avoid the war in northern China, where he wrote more than 240 poems, some of which are now commonly seen in the textbooks for Chinese students.
During the one-day trip at Du Fu’s former residence, families from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and South Korea took a bus decorated with pandas, another symbol of Chengdu, to learn about Du’s experience and the stories behind the poetry.
Du’s residence, a thatched house, has been rebuilt into a memorial temple for the great poet, based on its original appearance and surrounded by a classical garden. The residence and the neighboring Huanhuaxi Park have been renowned tourist destinations in Chengdu for their cultural significance.
“Such activities are very interesting,” said Matthew Jonathan Vegh, who founded an IT company in Chengdu. The Canadian took his son Michael to visit Du’s residence.
He said he had great interest in the local culture and even wrote a screenplay about the Sanxingdui Museum and Jinsha Ruins, two historical relic sites around Chengdu in his spare time.
His 9-year-old son Michael Vegh bought a fan decorated with one of Du’s poems and related images. He volunteered to read the poem in front of other attendees.
As part of the cultural events bridging poems with the city’s history, a number of foreign parents and children were brought to the historical spots and touched the memory of the ancient men of letters in Chengdu.
Sam Agyemang, one of the visitors from the United States, graduated as a postgraduate student from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China in Chengdu, where he married a local woman and gave birth to a girl.
He said his daughter, a 7-year-old student of Chengdu Paotongshu Primary School, can recite five traditional Chinese poems now, including two by Du Fu.
“Chengdu is suitable to live in and has very delicious food. I love the city, which I think is the most fascinating city in China,” he said.
Chengdu released several policies in 2016 to make foreigners feel at home in the city, including easy access to civil affairs information, activities about Chinese culture, language training and rich community activities.
Robin Roy, an English teacher from Scotland, played the role of tour guide during the trip.
He said the spicy food and slow and relaxing lifestyle of Chengdu inspired him to stay when he came five years ago.
“I have visited many Chinese cities, but Chengdu is still my favorite,” he said.