Chinese Bridge—China Tour Program for Arkansas Educator Group
(June 7—June 17, 2013)
Excerpts from feedbacks of the Arkansas Educator Group
My Chinese experience, thrilling and captivating! Afforded the opportunity by Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters and the Confucius Institute at UCA, I was one of Arkansas Educator Group honored by this extraordinary trip. Our time in China was shared between Shanghai and Nanjing with mostly sightseeing in Shanghai and visiting schools in Nanjing.
Our timing in Shanghai was perfect. We arrived on the heels of Expo, the World’s Fair, which preceded us, and departed before the Youth Olympics which followed. The city was spruced up for company, flowers and other fauna along the highways, and building projects were finished. All of the surroundings were a testimony that Chinese people are hard workers.
As well as being hard workers, the Chinese people seemed to be very social, nice, and particularly accommodating to visitors. We never felt unsafe. Even our van driver carefully navigated the tortuous road system averting motion sickness for all.
On our early morning walks through the park near our hotel, we saw the older set out exercising in groups, some with swords, some with scarves, and some doing Tai Chai. The fellows that brought their birds to the park aviary were fascinating.
Noticing the teenagers...I found them to be naïve in a way, sheltered. They didn’t seem tainted from watching a wide assortment of violent or indecent movies. They were mannerly, didn’t smoke, dressed nicely, and treated each other with respect. It appeared that disrespect and tomfoolery were not part of the childhood landscape. With one child being the rule, behavioral issues appeared to have been phased out of the culture (if it was ever there).
----Karen Morton, Ph.D.(Director of Testing and Data Mgt. Bentonville Public Schools.)
The experiences provided during our stay in China were wonderful. The interaction with individuals provided the greatest opportunity. The visiting of the schools, administration, and the students was certainly a great and valuable learning experience. This experience made me aware of how we are and can be working together to accomplish a common goal or goals in our world today. There was so much of the culture exhibited that I can now share that with not only my students in the years to come but with other teachers in my district, state, and nation. Truly, a trip of a lifetime.
---- Donald Ward (Chair of Social Studies and World History teacher at Beebe High School, a former Mayor of Beebe)
While seeing the breakneck speed of modernization in China’s cities was very impressive, this was not what impacted me most about China. The aspect of Chinese culture that impacted me most profoundly was not China’s future or present but its past. In Shanghai we visited an incredible art museum, gardens, and an ancient city built along canals.
In the art museum in Shanghai as I perused the richly restored lacquered woodwork of the Ming dynasty, regarded antique paintings of mountain villages shrouded in mist, contemplated exquisitely fashioned jade combs, and admired the delicate strokes of thousand year old poetry, the beauty of China began to emerge. Sipping green and jasmine tea in a Shanghai teahouse with new friends I tasted the Chinese love affair with wellness and nature. Strolling through Xuanwu Lake Park in Nanjing on the day of the Dragon Boat Festival and seeing hundreds of families out together exemplified the Chinese devotion to family. In Nanjing visiting a centuries old imperial garden with ancient buildings and trees and lily ponds standing in quiet harmony I got a sense of the Chinese attention to detail. In a silk factory in Shanghai I spied an enormous map hanging all along the length of one wall showing the ancient Silk Road and I was reminded of how important China has always been in world history.
As I look back on my time in China what stands out the most are two facts. One fact is that I knew very little about China before making the trip. The other fact is that while I learned a great deal about China and her people, I have only scratched the surface of the surface. The magnitude of people currently living in China is akin to the magnitude of her history and culture. While it would be difficult to get to know one hundred people in China very well it would still be only a tiny drop in the bucket of China’s millions. So it is with Chinese history and culture, to know a hundred years of history would be difficult but even a hundred years amongst China’s thousands is a very small drop as well. The magic however is that the hopelessness of the task is inspiring more than it is discouraging and once the journey to know China has begun in earnest you feel drawn in and desire to know more and more.
---- Jeffery Forbess ( ASpanish teacher and will be teaching Chinese in Jessieville High School, AR.)