Two girls in China: Following the footsteps of the Jesuits

Samantha Jenkins (UK) and Angelica Giombini (Italy), two enthusiastic students at Maastricht University (UM), will be travelling through China in August. Their trip will be guided by China Illustrata, a seventeenth-century collection of travel journals compiled by the Jesuit Athanasius Kircher. They will have the unique opportunity of comparing the contemporary habits of local inhabitants with those described in Kircher's accounts. The University Library hopes that this initiative will bring the wonderfully illustrated historical travel books from Maastricht University’s Special Collections to the attention of the wider public.

University College Maastricht student Samantha Jenkins is one of the lucky pair: ‘While scientific journalism is my main focus, how people interact with the world and have done so in the past is really what fascinates me.  This would be a prime opportunity for me to do what I love and to pursue the career that I would like to have in the future.’
She will be travelling with Angelica Giombini: ‘My passion is the humanities and I am very interested in history, art and Eastern civilisations, so I am really looking forward to this adventure.’

‘Two girls on Expedition in China’ represents the values that UM holds dear: inferring new knowledge from previously acquired knowledge, an international outlook viewing the world with an open mind and challenging students to develop.

Travel along online
During and after their trip the students will be maintaining a blog at They will use their most impressive images in a documentary. Lectures, workshops and exhibitions are also being planned.

route two girls in china

China Illustrata
According to former UM student Anna Haverkamp, in an essay on the European image of China in the seventeenth century, Kircher's work is especially interesting thanks to its reputation as a best-selling book of the day which was distributed widely in seventeenth-century China. In China Illustrata (also entitled Toonneel van China) Kircher describes Chinese culture, including clothing, gender, food, traditions and religion, with an incredible wealth of illustrations. The volume can be found online in various translations at

Maastricht University Anniversary
In 2016 Maastricht University will be celebrating its 40th anniversary. During this anniversary year, UM will be organising various activities, both within the university and in the city of Maastricht. Two Girls on Expedition in China is one of these activities. The trip to China was made possible with the support of the University Fund (Universiteitsfonds) and the Maastricht Academic Heritage Fund.

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