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A Special Exhibition Documenting NTHU’s History of Resilience
As part of the celebration of the 107th anniversary, the Library organized a special exhibition on the difficult times the University went through during the Japanese occupation of Eastern China. Titled “Faith and Fortitude—National Southwestern Associated University in the Flames of War,” the exhibition features rare historical materials documenting how the entire Tsing Hua community worked together to establish a temporary campus and overcome the countless trials and tribulations of those difficult years while carrying on its tradition of academic excellence.
 
The director of the Library, Lin Wenyuan, said that Tsing Hua College (the predecessor of NTHU) was established in Beijing in 1911 using part of the indemnity funds China paid to the United States as part of the Boxer Protocol. As Tsing Hua developed over the following half century, its various ups and downs reflect the momentous developments of that eventful phase of Chinese history. The exhibition was organized in conjunction with Tsing Hua University in Beijing, which provided lots of rare historical materials, many of which have been duplicated and added to NTHU’s collection.
 
The special exhibition was held from April 17 to May 13 on the first floor of the Main Library, and includes various rare documents, cultural relics, handwritten notes, and even a replica of the main gate of the National Southwestern Associated University.
 
Director Lin said that this exhibition demonstrates the great resilience of the Tsing Hua community during those difficult times. When Japan invaded China in 1937, Tsing Hua University, Peking University, and Nankai University were forced to move to Changsha, where they together formed the National Changsha Temporary University; and when Nanjing fell to the Japanese later in the same year, this school was moved to Kunming and renamed National Southwestern Associated University. Amongst the one thousand teachers and students on the move, most made their way to Kunming by boat or other forms of transportation, while a contingent of some 200 hardy young men made the entire journey on foot, passing through three provinces and a number of areas harassed by bandits.
 
The exhibition includes several rare photographs of this trekking contingent wearing khaki uniforms and straw sandals, and carrying all their provisions and equipment. Also on display is an itinerary detailing each day’s camping site. The contingent started out by trekking about 20 kilometers per day, and gradually increased to 35 kilometers each day. Eating only breakfast and dinner, and with a midday rest of only 40 minutes, they finally arrived in Kunming after 68 days. The distance between Changsha and Kunming is 1,671 kilometers, about 1,300 kilometers of which they completed on while conducted a field survey along the way.
 
Lin said that this trek is unique in the history of education. When National Changsha Temporary University was renamed as the National Southwestern Associated University in 1938, Tsing Hua President Mei Yi-chi was appointed as the chairman of the standing committee, the duties of which prevented him from returning home for his mother’s funeral. Amongst the materials provided by Tsing Hua University in Beijing are reproductions of the student registration cards at Southwestern Associated University of the Nobel Laureates Lee Tsung-Dao and Yang Chen-Ning, and Professor Yeh Chi-Sun’s corrections on Lee Tsung-Dao’s examination papers.
 
Another remarkable item on display is an exquisite seal carved by Professor Wen I-to for Professor Zhu Ziqing. During those difficult times, Wen was the sole bread-earner of his large family, and had to use his talent for carving seals to supplement his income as a faculty member.
 
The exhibit also included a number of interesting photos of the campus. The library and the two canteens were built of bricks and wood, and had tiled roofs, but all the other structures were built with mud bricks and had thatch roofs. The National Southwestern Associated University operated for eight years, graduated more than 2,000 students. At the conclusion of World War Two, the National Southwestern Associated University was dissolved, and Tsing Hua, Peking University, and Nankai University were relocated back to their original campuses.
 

Nobel Laureate Lee Tsung-Dao’s Student registration card at Southwestern Associated University.

Nobel Laureate Lee Tsung-Dao’s Student registration card at Southwestern Associated University.


Seal carved by Professor Wen I-to for Professor Zhu Ziqing.

Seal carved by Professor Wen I-to for Professor Zhu Ziqing.


Letter of appointment to the Southwestern Associated University preparatory committee issued by the Ministry of Education.

Letter of appointment to the Southwestern Associated University preparatory committee issued by the Ministry of Education.


On April 2, 1938 Ministry of Education Telegram authorizing National Changsha Temporary University to change its name to National Southwestern Associated University.

On April 2, 1938 Ministry of Education Telegram authorizing National Changsha Temporary University to change its name to National Southwestern Associated University.


Students dressed in Khaki uniforms arriving in Kunming in April 1938.

Students dressed in Khaki uniforms arriving in Kunming in April 1938.


Itinerary of the trek.

Itinerary of the trek.


Students making their way on foot to Kunming.

Students making their way on foot to Kunming.


Route of the trek and related photos.

Route of the trek and related photos.


Reproduced manuscript of the school song of National Southwestern Associated University.

Reproduced manuscript of the school song of National Southwestern Associated University.


Replica of the main gate at National Southwestern Associated University.

Replica of the main gate at National Southwestern Associated University.

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