Piece of Chinese history comes to SMC
Stoic, powerful, legendary – these are a few words to describe the thousands of terra-cotta warrior statues residing in the Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum in China. Now, two versions have made their way to the Santa Monica College library. In the aftermath of the June shooting, some students view the statues as protectors of the library.
Edgar Gudiel, an SMC freshman, said that despite not having experienced the tragedy firsthand, the statues are a symbol of protection.
“It’s showing students that they are guarding,” he said.
Two replicas of the terra-cotta warriors were purchased during The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies’ summer professional development program at SMC, offered to a team of 15 faculty and staff members this summer.
TBC seeks to educate the college and community about Chinese culture. The group organized scheduled tours, seminars and lectures for the selected SMC faculty members’ journey through Beijing and Xi’an this past June.
The program aimed to equip the team with skills that enhanced insight of Chinese culture and history, according to SMC’s global citizenship website.
Economics, politics, calligraphy and numerous other topics were covered by instructors who acted as tour guides once the seminars ended. The bilingual instructors continued to teach the history and significance outside of the classroom, while exposing the team to the various facets of China’s landscapes.
Upon visiting the ancient city of Xi’an, Mona Martin, dean of the SMC library, and her colleagues marveled at the sight of the warriors’ tomb.
“We were all just overwhelmed with what we saw,” said Martin. “It was incredible.”
She pulled a colleague aside and said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we had one in the library?”
At that moment, conversations became more serious, and the decision was made; two statues would be purchased for SMC’s library.
Bob Dammer, director of network services and telecommunications at SMC, negotiated to have them shipped to the library.
Eight weeks later, the statues arrived right before the fall semester began.
“We thought it was also a way to make [Chinese students] feel welcome with a piece of their land here,” said Martin.
The presence of the statues was immediately felt. Students and faculty began taking notice of them, marveling at their magnitude and taking pictures.
“I love that we can have these,” said library staff member Jan Juliani. “You don’t realize the scale until you stand next to them. You can see [students] whispering to their friends and pointing.”
However, some students do disregard the statues, even if it is now at their disposal to witness a piece of history.
Future plans involve erecting an informational plaque that gives students some context to the historical significance of the statues.
In the meantime, students seeking information about the statues need not go much further than the school’s library.
“We want people to ask questions about different cultures and to become familiar with other histories rather than just our own,” Martin said.