Haniel Spring School – Day 2

by: Polly Leung

Today we had a chance to observe more of Novosibirsk through touring in the city center. We visited an orthodox church, the main train station, the central park of the city and the memorial of WWII. I have 2 observations after the visit:

1. It is always good to combine empirical research into a social science research. Numbers can only give you a part of the story.

China, my home country and Russia are members of BRICS countries and their political situations are similar to each other. That’s why for me it is interesting to compare the two countries.

Novosibirsk is the third-largest city of Russia after Moscow and St. Petersburg with its 1,498,900 inhabitants as of 2012. I have been to Guangzhou, the third largest city of China, and I am really looking forward to compare the two cities during this academic excursion. According to the UN development report 2010, the income index of Novosibirsk region and Guangdong region (where Guangzhou is located) are 0.794 and 0.768 representatively. It seems that there is no significant difference on their economic performance statistically.

But when I walked along the central business areas of Novosibirsk, I can observe the overall economic situation is less developed than Guangzhou. There are less people shopping, less well-established infrastructures in Novosibirsk. I asked some of the Russian students and they said the income equality of the region is relatively higher than the other regions in Russia.

After going back I tried to look for the more information on that but unfortunately there is no official statistics of the inequality issue in Novosibirsk available in English. I can only found the Gini index of Novosibirsk region is 0.41 from a local think tank website which is higher than the 0.34 in Guangzhou. Since the statistics are not official I cannot  rely on it. But at least this experience demonstrated that the value of empirical research to a social scientist.

2. The importance of Peace Education for the next generation

We visited the memorial site of WWII in this afternoon. On the site, there are some weapons, like tanks and war planes on display. I saw there are a number of local parents bringing their children there to play. I feel a little bit uncomfortable when I saw the children play with the weapons innocently. The purpose of setting up the memorial site should be a place for public education on the importance of peace. But did the parents tell their children more about this issue?

Most of the people live in peace nowadays, especially the youngsters – they do not have any experience of wars. But as there are still a significant number of people live under the horror of wars, I really hope for governments all over the world to put more effort into peace education.

“Why do we have to learn history? Because history always repeats itself!” this is the most impressive quotation to me when I visited the holocaust memorial site in Berlin before.