Archive for the ‘Tours’ Category

Over 90 students from area schools visited the Laogai Museum on October 2nd and 3rd. The first group was from American University’s Washington Semester Program and was a mix of students just beginning college to seniors on their way to begin work on China issues. As part of Dr Richard Semiatin’s class, the students spent the morning at the Laogai Museum, where the museum’s founder, Mr Harry Wu, retold his story of being imprisoned in the Laogai and fielded questions afterward. Many of the students were curious about China’s future and asked Mr Wu for his opinion on the likelihood of China democratizing and on the implications for human rights in light of U.S.-Sino trade relations today.

The other group visited the museum as part of their East Asian history class at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. These high school students already knew much about Chinese history, and could even speak a little Chinese. However, they had never imagined that such large-scale cruelty was still going on. The high school students were curious about Mr Wu’s background, as well as many of the personal stories of others who served time in the Laogai. Museum staff led the high school students through the museum and helped answer their questions ranging from the reasons why Laogai products are still found on American store shelves to the significance of Mao’s portrait in Tiananmen Square. Many left with wider eyes than when they went in.

The Laogai Museum staff and Mr Wu thank these students for visiting the museum and welcome them back to explore the museum more.

If you want to arrange a tour for your group or to speak with Mr Wu, please email or call (202) 730-9308.

Laogai Museum founder and executive director Harry Wu spoke with 10 ninth-grade students from New York States’ Windward School.  To celebrating their final year at the school, their history teacher Jason Steiker took them on a two-day trip to DC, with the highlights of sitting in on a Supreme Court case and hearing Harry share his story!

Harry passionately related the injustices that occurred, and still occur, to common Chinese people throughout the history of the People’s Republic.  In addition to explaining his own senseless arrest, 19-year imprisonment, and two episodes of solitary confinement, he told the students about China’s lack of free speech, lack of political representation, lack of religious freedom, its Internet censorship, and forced abortions and sterilizations under the one-child policy.  Harry closed with the inspirational words that these American students are free to choose their own successful careers and establish their own destiny, but that the Chinese Laogai stole his youthful plans, and it is now his destiny, even at an advanced age, to keep the flame of advocacy burning for the 3-5 million current Laogai prisoners who yearn for normal lives.

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As the students were studying ancient China and had not yet covered the 20th-century, museum staff opened the tour with an overview of modern Chinese history, including the Hundred Flowers Period, the Great Leap Forward and ensuing Great Famine, the Cultural Revolution, Deng’s Reform and Opening, and the Tiananmen Square Massacre.  Having learned from our detailed exhibits of the “guilty until proven innocent” mentality on which China’s judicial (and especially extra-judicial) system operates, the students were excited to witness a hopefully more just decision tomorrow at the Supreme Court.

To make the Laogai Museum a part of your DC experience, please email or call 202-730-9308 to arrange a group tour and a talk with Harry Wu.  We look forward to hosting you!

Laogai Museum founder and director Harry Wu spoke on Thursday to students enrolled in American University’s Washington Semester program, giving his life story and an overview of the appalling human rights situation in China, before they received a tour of the Museum.

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Some of the student’s home universities were American, but most were European.  For Washington Semester, they have temporarily moved to DC to “participate in intellectual, real-world discussions with professionals immersed in [their] field of study” – in this case, a seminar on U.S. foreign policy with Professor John Calabrese.  Students also work in an internship and take an optional elective course or “in-depth research project using Washington DC as a laboratory of information and experience.”

Harry Wu was impressed by their questions, as they brought their international expertise and curiosity to the Museum.  Several were incredulous that the U.S. government has turned a blind eye to prison-made imports from China.

As foreign exchange students themselves, they asked if Chinese students studying abroad return to their homeland with a new perspective on freedom and oppression.  A UK Guardian article writes: “The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences revealed 1.06 million Chinese had gone to study overseas since 1978, but only 275,000 had returned” – only three out of ten.  According to the International Herald Tribune, “while they really don’t fit in America, they have also developed habits and ways of thinking that don’t permit them to integrate back into Chinese society easily.’’  These “habits and ways of thinking” include the freedom of information available in almost every nation other than China, as well as the freedom to enjoy the rule of law, to have more than one child, to worship freely, to live in a safe and clean environment, and to use social media like Facebook and Twitter.

The Laogai Museum wishes the Washington Semester students well and hopes they can return to their home countries and universities with a new thirst for justice regarding Chinese human rights abuse and the Laogai system.

To arrange a group tour of the Laogai Museum and a talk with Harry Wu, please email or call 202-730-9308.  We look forward to hosting you!

Laogai Research Foundation founder and executive director Harry Wu and shared his story with 7 students of Emerson Preparatory School, after they received a tour of the Laogai Museum.

The high school students were enrolled in an honors seminar entitled “International Human Rights: History, Ideas, and Practices”.  The visit was designed as part of their midterm assignment, prompting the students to ask intelligent questions of Harry and museum guides.

The course, according to its description (click on Course Descriptions Spring 2012 here), “is an in-depth exploration of human rights as a historical process, a normative idea, and a transnational political issue.  The first half of the course will focus on foundational philosophical issues regarding the idea of human rights (e.g. What is humanity?  What are rights?  Are human rights universal?) and explore the evolution of this idea throughout modern history.  The second half of the course will cover human rights as a political phenomenon as it relates to state sovereignty and the international system, through which students will explore the progress and challenges of international human rights issues.”

We applaud Emerson for offering such a course, the students for enthusiastically participating, and the teacher for his expertise.  We hope more and more high schools and universities will design and offer similar courses in their humanities and Chinese studies programs, to further the next generation’s awareness of human rights abuse in China and around the world.

To arrange a group tour of the Laogai Museum and a talk with Harry Wu, please email or call 202-730-9308.  We look forward to hosting you!

October News

Posted: October 31, 2011 in Events, Laogai News, Tours

Hello everybody! October has been a busy month, and we at the Laogai Museum are happy to say that we have been visited by several student groups this fall. The tour groups, which have ranged from high school freshman to Annapolis Naval Academy language students, came to our new Dupont Circle location to gain a greater understanding of the injustices currently taking place in China. The visits began with a speech from Harry Wu, former political prisoner, and ended with guided tours of the museum. Mr. Wu’s story of 19 years in the Laogai prisons and his path to becoming a rights advocate help put a face on these abuses, and also helps students to relate to China’s tumultuous Communist era history. After gaining an understanding about Mao Zedong and the political campaigns he used to consolidate his power, it is easier for museum visitors to put classified CCP documents, prisoner belongings, and information about political dissidents into context. Looking at real products produced inside the walls of China’s prisons, these issues hit home for the students, who are always amazed to find out that the U.S. allows importation of Laogai goods to continue. It is always refreshing to meet young people (and their innovative teachers) who are not only interested in the issue of human rights in China, but who also want to do something to help.

The Laogai Museum also continued its film series into the month of October. Every Saturday, films highlighted different issues in Chinese human rights, with topics that included organ harvesting, the effects of the One Child Policy, and unrest in Tibet.

We hope to have more student groups and visitors in the month of November! If you are interested in organizing a guided tour, contact Harry Wu is also available to speak at school and other public events.