The Core Curriculum has truly changed my perspective on life and the environment surrounding me. After taking Core classes, which maintain in-depth discussions and analyses while surveying a wide range of masterpieces, I ask myself: what are the ideas - in Western literary traditions, political philosophy, art history, or world civilizations - that move me? Has there been a set of ideas or questions that I constantly contemplate when I live my daily life?
Yes, there are. Because of the influences of Contemporary Civilization in particular, I constantly think about the tension between the individual versus the collective, individuality versus nationality, and perspectives in cultural criticism. As an international living especially, I grew tremendously by examining political and philosophical texts of the West, comparing them against other civilizations, as well as reflecting on the traditions under which I was brought up. Therefore, not only have I become a more well-rounded thinker about Western democracies and governments, I am also now more capable of making sense of political circumstances of my country and other nations across the world. More importantly, CC has nurtured in me a sense of responsibility, a patience to contemplate on complicated situations, and a genuine passion for the common good.
My Core Reflection, Transformation, is a drawing series composed of three drawings: the little red book, the Tiananmen Square, and the RMB banknote. The three objects all include the same figure: Mao Zedong, arguably the most influential figure in modern Chinese history. Using Mao as a focal point, the three objects together form a narrative of almost a century of struggles and upheaval of People’s Republic of China since its founding. The little red book (the title of which is “Quotations from Chairman Mao”) symbolizes the cult of personality that Mao developed in the early history of the PRC. The Tiananmen Square, with Mao’s portrait in the center as an emblem of the nation, brings mixed sentiments of national pride as well as horrors of an authoritarian regime. The RMB banknote, finally, laments a new type of worship among more and more Chinese people - the worship of material wealth - that comes with increasing commercialization and apathy towards politics and the public life. Inspired by what I have learned in CC, I attempt to visually present partially a progression in Chinese modern history.