See Suzhou like a local: Spider produces film tour of his home city in China

March 28, 2022

Student Experience

Every year, the University partners with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Rose Group to celebrate ChinaFest, an effort to promote understanding between the people of China and the U.S. through discussions, lectures, films, and other cultural events.

Students in the UR Chinese Students and Scholars Association also bring a personal touch to the festivities through a series of hometown videos. This year, accounting major Cisco Cheng, a sophomore, took viewers on a tour of his hometown of Suzhou, located about 60 miles west of Shanghai.

While walking the streets of Suzhou, Cheng said he wanted to show how the city is one of juxtapositions. Parts are highly developed and modern; others are more classical and slower paced, with canals and gardens. Residents take time to enjoy tea and socialize, get a massage, or take in a pingtan performance, a narrative musical artform that originated in the city.

Cheng also wanted to highlight the local cuisine — particularly a seasonal mung bean soup that is popular during the heat of summer. He brought along a friend from American University and captured his first taste of the dish.

The project was a good fit with Cheng’s developing interest in video blogging. He recently bought a new camera and has been building his photography and videography skills. Along with a friend, he captured footage from three camera angles, which he then edited with iMovie.

He hopes viewers get a small taste of life in what he describes as “paradise” and gain a deeper understanding of an expansive and diverse country.

“Many Americans are very interested in my country, but they only know Beijing and Shanghai,” he said. “We were trying to show we have other cities as well and let people get to know them.”