July 10 to July 25 2013, nine students from four Arkansas high schools and one chaperone went to China to participate in the Chinese Bridge – Summer Camp for American High School Students in Beijing and Tianjin, held by the Confucius Institute Headquarters.
The first week of the summer camp was in Tianjin. Students spent the mornings studying Chinese at the Tianjin Normal University and doing cultural projects like Chinese painting and paper cutting. In the afternoon and evening, students did some cultural excursions to places of interests in Tianjin, such as the 5 Avenues District, the Ancient Culture Street, Tianjin Museum, Yangliuqing, and they also had the opportunity to watch a Chinese Opera show. During their extracurricular time, students learned a cultural dance for their performance in Beijing at the end of the summer camp.
In the second week, students went to Beijing to visit famous culture relics. They visited the Forbidden City and climbed the Great Wall. The great history, splendid architecture, and profound culture of China impressed students and teachers a lot. Kim Rowan, the chaperon teacher from Bentonville High School, said that she will never forget this trip, and this kind of activity can encourage more students in Arkansas to learn Chinese, take part in the activities offered by the Confucius Institute, and even work and study in China in the future.
Students also wrote in their feedback that, they have made great progress in Chinese by learning in an immersive environment, and they had first-hand experience about the profoundness of China’s past, the beauty of an old and modern twist. Besides, they are impressed with the breakneck speed of modernization in China and the friendliness of Chinese people. They all expressed their desire to share their trip with family, friends, and classmates, and decided to work harder on Chinese, hoping one day they can visit China again.
The Confucius Institute at the University of Central Arkansas (UCACI) made great efforts in promoting this summer camp program by organizing the registration and preparation work in Arkansas. On 25 May, the Confucius Institute at UCA gave the campers a Pre-Departure Orientation.