RCE Hangzhou - 2022

“Travelling of Eyes” – Strengthening ESD by Bringing Traditional Folk Culture Back to Life through Art
Basic Information
Title of project : 
“Travelling of Eyes” – Strengthening ESD by Bringing Traditional Folk Culture Back to Life through Art
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Hangzhou
Contributing organization(s) : 
Zhejiang International Studies University, Green Zhejiang (Local NGO), Hanns-Seidel-Foundation (German Party affiliated NGO with Representative Office in China)
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Dominik Sprenger
Organizational Affiliation: 
Chief Representative of Hanns-Seidel-Foundation Zhejiang
Xin Hao
Organizational Affiliation: 
Executive Director of Green Zhejiang
Prof. Dr. Wu Weidong
Organizational Affiliation: 
Dean of School of Education, Zhejiang International Studies Universit
Format of project: 
art, audiovisual
Language of project: 
Chinese (+visual art)
Date of submission:
Wednesday, May 18, 2022
UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Chinese national policies for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Double reduction policy
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
Zhejiang province
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Zhejiang International Studies University, No. 299, Liuhe Road, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China 310012
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
The Province of Zhejiang and its capital Hangzhou form a cradle of Chinese civilization. Moreover, with its high-tech industry (Alibaba & Geely) the region is a powerhouse of economic development in China. The natural environment of Zhejiang includes rivers, streams, lakes and mountains – West Lake scenery area in Hangzhou is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. As the population structure transforms from rural to urban and the development of urban culture(s) diversifies, environmental awareness is currently increasing. This leads to a situation where public authorities as well as education provides are looking to develop new methods and policies that support sustainable development.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
Rapid economic development has led to serious environmental pollution and an erosion of local cultural identity. Traditional folk culture, that was in many ways more sustainable, has been replaced by modern lifestyles. Therefore, efforts to safeguard traditional folk culture must be intensified in all parts of society, including the rural population and national minority communities themselves as well as broader society.
In the past decades, China’s technology and social productivity have greatly improved. But at the same the environment was damaged and many elements of traditional local culture have been forgotten. The region is proud of its historical role as a center of tea and silk culture and there are publicly founded museums and other places for ESD-learning on these topics. Our project focusses on lesser known elements of local culture, on traditional objects of everyday life in the rural areas around Hangzhou. These objects, like traditional baskets, wooden tools or jewelry, that used to be passed on from generation to generation, are now often being replaced by cheap plastic items. In order to save traditional culture and promote a more sustainable lifestyle, teachers and students of the Arts at Zhejiang International Studies University visit nearby villages, engage with the locals and identify traditional cultural objects. A focus has been placed on preserving the culture of the ethnic minority of the She. Around 700.000 She people still live in the mountainous areas in and around Zhejiang Province. They refer to themselves 'Shanha' where Shan means mountain and Ha means customers, 'customers of the mountain'.
- Protecting local cultural heritage, including ethnic minorities
- Raising awareness for cultural heritage in elementary and middle schools, as well as in broader society
- Showing the interconnection between preserving cultural heritage and sustainable lifestyles in modern society
Activities and/or practices employed: 
1. Teachers and University Students connect with villagers and members of ethnic minorities to identify objects of traditional local culture in nearby villages.
2. Teachers and University Students make sketches, drawings and other pieces of art based on the objects.
3. Exhibitions show the art in local schools (including elementary, middle and vocational schools), libraries etc. and thereby raise awareness in society.
4. In one instance, a teacher training has been conducted on how to promote awareness for traditional local culture through art. There are plans to conduct more teacher trainings in this field as a part of a related ESD-project of RCE Zhejiang, the “Sino-German Alliance for ESD” (“Pre Charity”) in elementary and middle schools.
5. Study tours to those villages will be organized for students. Then, cultural education class will be conducted on the knowledge of culture and how to conserve it. After that, students will engage in practical activities such as promoting the traditional culture to their community.
Size of academic audience: 
Changes in attitudes towards traditional culture have been registered in different target groups, starting from the villagers, who get a new perspective on the wealth of their own traditional culture. They are thereby empowered to protect their cultural heritage themselves. Students in elementary and middle schools get to know elements of traditional culture that have already vanished from everyday life. An elementary school in the nearby city of Wenzhou, that focusses on providing affordable education to children of migrant workers and therefore has a large percentage of ethnic minority students has installed a permanent exhibition of traditional wooden tools of ethnic minorities.
Lessons learned: 
Protection of intangible cultural heritage is a priority of the UNESCO as well as in Chinese national and provincial policy. However, the villagers themselves are often unaware of the wealth of their own traditional culture. Many ordinary people do not see any incentive in preserving traditional cultural objects. The educational target groups of the project therefore include both the rural residents on the one hand and students and broader society in the cities on the other hand. Only by engaging both groups, traditional sustainable lifestyles can be preserved and reinvigorated. Directly engaging with local cultures, such as the ethnic minority of the She people, is a priority.
Key messages: 
“This is what we paint.
This is what we quest for.
This represents our trails,
our footprints,
and what we revel in.
All our efforts
are just to let more people
the gradually vanishing
folk culture.
We reopen the album that has been forgotten by history.
Using the simplest tools,
searching in the remotest countryside,
tracing the most romantic folk culture,
undertaking the noblest mission,
in 2022,
we are pursuing
to keep folk culture alive.”
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
There is related project called the “Sino-German Alliance on ESD” (“Pre Charity”):
A Network of more than 80 elementary and middle schools throughout Zhejiang Province is supported by the Teacher Training Center of Zhejiang Province (Government affiliated), Green Zhejiang (NGO), Alibaba Foundation (NGO) and Hanns-Seidel-Foundation (German Party affiliated NGO).
The project implements ESD through teacher trainings, curriculum design and the development of teaching materials.

RCE Hangzhou is planning to connect both projects by bringing the folk art exhibitions to our ESD-Network schools and conducting teacher trainings on this topic.
The project currently is moderately funded in the framework of the art curriculum of Zhejiang International Studies University, but mostly relies on the personal initiative of the individuals involved and the time they invest.

When linked to the “Sino-German Alliance on ESD” the project will be able to share in funding from Alibaba Foundation and Hanns-Seidel-Foundation as well the other stakeholders of the ESD Alliance.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon WeChat Image_20220518175007.jpg (889.39 KB) A traditional iron has been restored and is now displayed on social media “Travelling of Eyes” Social Media Account (on Bilibili)
Image icon WeChat Image_20220518174942.jpg (822.86 KB) Traditional knowledge is being passed on to the next generation “Travelling of Eyes” Social Media Account (on Bilibili)
Image icon WeChat Image_20220518175003.jpg (844.55 KB) Traditional Embroidery “Travelling of Eyes” Social Media Account (on Bilibili)
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 
Traditional Knowledge  
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Developing capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level