What is the best way to learn about a country? For a country like China that boasts over 5000 years of history, many suggest that in order to have a better comprehension of the country, people should visit museums. However, I believe there are some alternative choices better than simply visiting museums.
First of all, museums often fail to reflect the contemporary traits in a country’s modern history. Most museums, no matter art or architect museums, attempt to focus more on the relics or artifacts of ancient times. Undeniably, paying a visit to museums can improve foreigners’ or tourists’ aesthetic appreciation and facilitate their better understanding of a country’s historical relics. Yet it has a limitation. By only including ancient works like papermaking or major historical events like “May 4th movement”, museums somewhat overlook some more important elements that help define modern China. Answers to questions like: “How did the Chinese society transformed radically from a backward one into an enlightened one? How was the traditional value of Chinese civilization passed on to the next generation?” can not be found in museums.
Compared with visiting museums, I find the best way to foster better knowledge of a country is through news report and communication. This is because news broadcast or newspapers can deliver first-hand and immediate reports on a variety of counts, from the latest political decisions of President Xi to the phenomenal success of Jay Chou’s concert. Different sections of newspaper can cater to the individual reader’s interest. What’s more, by conversing with local people, a newcomer from a foreign country can have quick acquaintance with local people’s lifestyle and personality. Whether they are hospitable or indifferent, knowledgeable or ignorant, polite or ill-mannered, all these traits can be mirrored through the process of a conversation.
Therefore, despite all the merits of a museum-visiting experience can bring, I believe that museums only stand as the representation of a country’s past tense, and that it is more important for us to know about the country present situation and the people there via news and conversation.