A cultural science experiment
Three UTS students with a particular interest in designing and building sculptures, were selected to travel to China to participate in Harbin Engineering University’s (HEU) 12th International University Snow Sculpture Competition.
The students – Sharan Gi Ching Lao, fourth year student studying IT and business; Ethan May, final year student in civil and environmental engineering; and Saanchi Maheshwari, fourth year software engineering and finance student – experienced -18°c when they arrived in Harbin.
HEU developed a great program for the duration of the competition, and its volunteers took excellent care of our team of students.
They commenced their trip with an introductory class to snow sculpting and using snow sculpting tools, a very welcome class for the first-time snow sculptors. Experienced snow sculpture designers from HEU helped with finalising the UTS design of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the sculpture.
Initially the UTS team had intended to also include the Saint Sophia Cathedral, a famous Harbin landmark, but it turned out that would be too difficult for beginning sculptors. Nevertheless, the team called the design ‘from here to there’ symbolising friendship between people from both countries, the role education plays in the exchange of ideas and the role of the strong UTS-HEU relationship in allowing students to experience each other’s countries.
I actually can’t believe we built it. Snow looks deceivingly soft, but in fact it’s more like carving ice. It was really interesting to use snow as a building material – not something we get to do often in Australia.
Over the next few days the team completed the snow sculpture – but not without taking the time for some cultural experiences. They:
- attended world-renowned ice festival, the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival
- participated in HEU’s dumpling festival, where the students got to make and eat dumplings
- tried traditional calligraphy, writing their names and the Chinese symbol for ‘good fortune’
- visited the Sunac Land theme park, where a special lantern exhibition was being held.
What a great opportunity to meet new friends and experience the Harbin culture, all while learning how to build with ice.
Sharan Gi Ching Lao
At the snow sculpture award ceremony, UTS received the recognition award for its Sydney Harbour Bridge, not bad for the first time participating in snow sculpting. However, in the case of this competition, participating was definitely more important than winning.
This was a life changing experience, and for me it was the first time visiting China. I loved the time in Harbin – so much so that I plan to study some Chinese!