As we drove west, the countryside was suddenly invaded by an aircraft carrier. It is part of a huge park complex called 东方绿舟 Dongfang Lu Zhou: the Eastern Green Boat or Oriental Green Boat. The English name is in question; the government has decided to try to find a new English name, but the article that I found did not make any suggestions. I would imagine that a committee will be formed.

The name has nothing to do with the aircraft carrier, it has more to do with the fact that the park has both land and water amusements. The aircraft carrier, which is really just a normal building, not a transported ship, is part of a larger military education museum. There are displays inside and models of missiles and some real planes. The carrier is at least near water. The park abuts Dianshan Lake.

There are different living centers and camp grounds that provide accomodation to kids coming for summer programs. Most sites are based on different cultures from around the world. They can swim, boat, play tennis, golf, and get training in all sorts of sports as well as study various science topics. In addition, they can do survival training similar to our wilderness experience camps. To inspire them, there is a road lined with statues of great thinkers, scientists, and inventors. The purpose of the park is to provide a jump start through education for the future of China by combining fun with advanced lessons.

As with most things in China, it is done on a large scale. The park covers 922.5 acres (373 hectares). Up to 4,000 kids can stay in various "camps" in the park. There are also after school and weekend programs during the year. This is not unusual in China. There are "Saturday Universities" or their equivalent in the cities and most large towns where children attend classes in mathematics, chemistry, physics, foreign languages, but also art, music, and sports on the weekend. The educational system is highly competitive. The kids start preparing for their national high school exam in the 5th grade and then spend the rest of their school years preparing for the national college exam. Their score on either exam will determine which school they can attend. The best schools get the best students and the most resources. Schools are ranked by the scores the students get on the national exams.

If you want to see the carrier from above, check it out on Google Satellite. It's about 30 miles from Shanghai as the crow flies and a little less than an hour's drive. At the same time take a look at the surrounding countryside and the amount of development expanding into farm land. I hope that Google Earth will eventually allow us to access satellite images by year. It will most interesting to see this area change.

China Index >> History of Shanghai and Suzhou Region >> Jiangnan, Rural Shanghai

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Last update: February 2007
© Marilyn Shea 1996, 1999, 2002, 2007