University offers lessons on Chinese culture

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, June 21, 2012

By Whitley Kilcrease

High school teachers and students will be able to learn about Chinese language, culture and history at an upcoming program at Troy University.

“We want to encourage students to make foreign language study a lifetime pursuit while increasing each student’s level of proficiency,” Dr. Lance Tatum, Vice Chancellor of the university’s Global Campus.

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The university will be hosting it’s second annual Troy-STARTALK Student and Teacher Chinese Summer Learning Programs for 15 days in July at the main campus.

According to Rui Feng, a lecturer in the College of Education, participants will be instructed on the basics of Chinese language, including its character, tones, words and sentences.

He also said the camp will introduce students to Chinese cultural activities, such as dances, crafts, Tai Chi, Chinese on computers and Dragon dance. The camp even explores how to make Chinese tea and other traditional Chinese dishes.

“At this moment, we have full registration as planned,” Feng said. “Thirty students for two classes and 25 teachers for one class.”

Students completing the program will have the opportunity to participate in further programs, such as studying abroad in China, with the Confucius Institute at Troy University.

Teachers participating will undergo intensive training and cultural immersion opportunities similar to the student workshop, giving them a better understanding of the importance of Chinese culture when they return to the classroom.

“I thought it would be a good experience and would be fun,” Perry Bunn, selected attendee and incoming freshman at Charles Henderson High School, said. “I think it will benefit me in the future.”

Bunn also said calligraphy is the camp activity he is looking forward to the most.

Troy-STARTALK’s mission states that the goal of the camp is to increase the number of Americans learning, speaking and teaching critically-needed foreign languages by offering students and teachers of these languages creative and engaging summer experiences that strive to exemplify best practices in language education and in language teacher development.

“What we are doing in our Troy-STARTALK student program is very much similar to their mission: the cultivation of a taste of Chinese language and culture in an effort to help young Americans to use the language for our country,” Feng said.

The program began last year for K-12 Mandarin Chinese teachers and was expanded to include students in grades 9-12 this year.

“Out of 30 students, 13 are from the Troy area,” Feng said. “Out of 25 teachers, 15 are from Troy.”

According to Dianna Lee, who has two children participating, the application process was extensive, with students required to submit an application, an official transcript, letters of recommendation and a 400-word essay about why they would like to attend the camp.

She said they are excited and looking forward to spending two weeks on Troy’s campus immersed in Chinese culture.

“They attended a really short mini-class on origami and an overview of Chinese culture years ago that was put on by Chinese students at the university and loved it,” Lee said.

“I’m hoping they will gain a good knowledge of Chinese culture and language.”

For more information on this program and how to apply for future sessions, contact the Confucius Institute at Troy University.