Chinese Bridge Summer Camp for High School Students -- 2013
Chinese Bridge—China Summer Camp for American High School Students
(July 10—25, 2013)
Excerpts from feedbacks of Arkansas High School Students
Throughout my stay in Tianjin I have found that there are many differences between our cultures. America is very set in modern life while china is only partly set on it. Tianjin is a perfect example of china combining old cultural effects with modern culture. I love the way that Tianjin captures the beauty of old building structures and adds a modern twist. My favorite place we visited in Tianjin was definitely the water park we went to. While we were there we saw a man dancing solo and decided to join him. Within seconds we were surrounded by locals videotaping us having a good time. We even got some of the local children to dance with us. I'm sure we are all over the Chinese YouTube by now.
Every day we had classes that better introduced us to our surrounding and helped us to improve our Chinese. Some of the places we talked about and later visited were the ancient culture street, Five Avenues, Italian street, Yangliuqing Wood New Year Picture Museum, Tianjin culture center, and the Peking Opera. I found all of these places very interesting although I had favorites. I fell in love with the culture street. Basically the culture street is a market. The streets are lined with stores that have all kinds of things in them. My host family that I got to spend a day with also took me to the ancient culture street and while we were there he treated me to cha tang which translates to "tea soup". At first I didn't think I’d like it but it was one of my favorite things I tried in China.
My next favorite thing we did was watch the Peking opera. I personally couldn't understand the actors but I still got the basics of the piece. The Peking opera is a mixture of almost all of the performing arts. It has music, singing, acting, and acrobats. I don't know how those actors can be so accomplished at what they so but they really captured my attention. The last task we had to do at the summer camp was perform at the closing ceremony. At first I hated the idea of dancing in front of all the other summer school students but i really enjoyed it. Everyone enjoyed it. We got to perform on the Beijing Royal School's stage with all the lights and everything. We even got to dress up in traditional Chinese outfits. It was a full production for us. How could you not enjoy that?
---- Cali Jaques (Bentonville High School)
I truly enjoyed the time spent learning Chinese in the classrooms at Tianjin. The teachers were always in a friendly and helpful mood, and did a great job incorporating new vocabulary with the events and excursions that we participated in. The teachers were also very interactive with the class, not only speaking and teaching Chinese to us, but having us speak in Chinese to them, too. Honestly, I looked forward to class time and working on the assignments. I felt like the way that the teachers were teaching the class taught Chinese in a more immersive environment, compared to other methods such as learning from a book.
My favorite part of the trip was the multiple cultural excursions that we got to go on. From Ancient Culture Street, to art museums, to a Peking Opera, each excursion offered something new and interesting. We were given plenty of time to explore and discover in small groups. Not only were these excursions a chance to learn something new, but more often than not, they were a chance for us to practice our Chinese with the local residents of the city. On many of the excursions, I was able to interact with people not only when buying an item, but also on the many occasions in which I was requested for a picture. Although all of the excursions were very educational, interesting, and enjoyable, my favorite was the Peking Opera. I had seen movies and read about them, and I was incredibly excited when I heard that we would be able to see one in real life. The performance was amazing, and is something that I will treasure. I was also lucky enough to be able to take a picture with the main actress, who did an outstanding job with her singing and acrobatics. These cultural excursions helped me to learn the culture that accompanied and was intertwined with the language I was learning.
In all, this trip to China was a remarkable experience that I am sure not to forget. It was my longest stay in China yet, and my most extensive use of the Chinese language to date. The Chinese classes that were taught were immersive and very helpful, along with the teachers that taught them. The cultural excursions were always interesting and informative, and gave us a chance to see the culture of China and Tianjin. The Chinese chaperones that accompanied us were a helpful research for those who did not speak fluent Chinese, as they were always happy and ready to help with any questions we may have had. This trip was a memorable experience that helped advance my Chinese skills and my knowledge of Chinese culture.
---- From Hot Springs High School
The city that has motivated me to learn a language is the beautiful port city of Tianjin; filled with art, food and culture. The streets are clean, the people content and willing to help others regardless of where they are from. All art is filled with meaning and bright vibrant colors and interesting exaggeration of shapes and symbols. Not only the art but the architecture is astounding as well and at times almost as impressive as the works of art. The food has been by far the most exciting experience visiting Tianjin. The few times we’ve been out to eat I have enjoyed myself immensely. Nothing was bland or restrained in flavor or aroma, and the "Lazy Susan" or spinning table kept the meal interesting.
Overall, my time in China was wonderful. Everywhere I went, I felt like I was welcomed and respected. The kids I met from Beijing and Tianjin became instant friends who I am still in contact with while the teachers instilled skills that I will continue to use for a long time. Beijing’s sights also were a very important part of my trip. I was awed by the grand scale of the Great Wall up close. The Forbidden City was the most interesting and the biggest castle I've ever visited and Tiananmen Square shocked me with the amount of open space directly inside a city. I will remember China and the friends I met there forever.
---- From Conway High School