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Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center (CHP) is a small grassroots, legally-registered NGO working to protect cultural heritage across China.

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Heritage Trail project

From the City of Brotherly Love to the Great Wall: An Intern’s Take

 

James surveys a Beijing hutong
 

Name: James Watson-Krips

 
Hometown: Philadelphia, USA

Position: Intern

Project: Heritage Trail

Living in Beijing in 2011 is an experience like no other. The city’s dynamism is palpable, and in few other places can one find the old and new side by side in such stark contrast. But China’s mad dash to modernity, much of Beijing’s heritage has come under threat. Who works to advocate for these cultural treasures? Who works to give heritage protection a voice?

That’s where CHP comes in.

Although I’ve only been here a short while, I can already say working at CHP has been a great experience. It’s an exciting and energetic office environment and everyone is incredibly committed to the cause of protecting China’s cultural heritage in both Beijing and beyond.

CHP may be a smaller NGO, but this has only given me a greater chance to make an impact. I’ve already been handed a leadership role in our Heritage Trail Project, an initiative designed to give individuals a first-hand look into Beijing’s cultural and architectural history. Starting with the Nanluoguxiang and Shichahai neighborhoods, my project partners and I will thoroughly research, explore, photograph, and map out every hutong in the area. We’ll then compile the data into a variety of dual-language brochures and booklets, each one detailing a different walking itinerary through which one can experience Old Beijing. We hope that after seeing the cultural treasures to be found in China’s capital, people will come to better understand why these artifacts both deserve and require protection.

Similarly, the varied nature of CHP’s preservation work has challenged me to draw from multiple aspects of my skill set and actively use my degree in East Asian Studies. I’ve had to actively employ my Chinese language skills through translation work, apply my knowledge of Chinese history while researching hutong, and utilize my writing abilities to craft grant proposals. I’ve even had to work as a photographer, documenting hutong life.

Working at CHP brings something new to the table every day, and I’m positive that the next few months will prove challenging and memorable. I’ve been given a chance to work towards a great cause in my own field of interest, and I will do all I can to make a difference in a city like no other.

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