Founders Hall: A photo tour of China

In 1979, before China opened its borders to tourism, Doug and Kathy Coombs were offered the trip of a lifetime — a tour of China with an expatriate couple who had lived and worked there. Cameras in hand, they traveled by air, rail, boat, and road for three weeks, photographing renowned sites like the Great Wall and the famed terra cotta soldiers as well as ordinary street scenes in small villages. In a travelogue on Friday, Feb. 3, at 1 p.m., you can experience what China was like as they narrate photos from their journey.

For Doug, who is fluent in Chinese and holds a master’s degree and did postgraduate work in Chinese studies, the trip was an opportunity to deepen his understanding of China’s history, politics and people. His host was a soon-to-retire fellow banker who had worked as an assistant branch manager in Hong Kong before China’s Communist revolution and had been responsible for closing the branch down during those tumultuous times. The host’s wife was the daughter of a U.S. consul who grew up in China in the 1920s and 1930s and took the couple to the towns of her youth. “The receptivity of the people was incredible,” said Doug of the people they encountered during their travels, most of whom had never before seen foreigners. Much has changed since then, which they will show through recent photos as they share their insights into China then and now.