Students catch glimpse into Chinese lifestyles

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Yuetong Qu, a graduate student at Troy University, teaches the umbrella dance of the Chinese culture to a group of STARTALK participants.

Yuetong Qu, a graduate student at Troy University, teaches the umbrella dance of the Chinese culture to a group of STARTALK participants.

Written by Kelsey Vickers, intern with The Messenger

Thirty-one students from across the U.S. are participating in a two-week program at the Confucius Institute on Troy University’s campus learning all about Chinese culture.

The program, which is in its third year on Troy’s campus, is called STARTALK and is a government-funded initiative to help increase the number of Americans learning about foreign languages and cultures.

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It pays tuition for high school students to live on Troy’s campus and learn about the Chinese culture during the summer.

Cypress Liu, program coordinator, said the program had about 65 students apply, but they choose 35.

“We review the applications and go over the teacher recommendations,” she said. “We also consider the diversity of the group, as well, so that we have about half of the students from Alabama and half from other states.”

Liu said they have students participating from several states other than Alabama, including Georgia, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, North Carolina and Florida.

Joshua Scott, a junior at Charles Henderson High School, said his second year participating in this program has been a great one so far.

“I’ve always been interested in the Chinese culture,” he said, “so getting to learn a second language has been great.”

Scott said his favorite aspect of the program has been the student-teacher interaction and getting to learn one-on-one.

Christopher Truong, another junior from CHHS, was interested in the program for similar reasons.

“I’ve always wanted to learn about the culture, but our school doesn’t have anyone there to teach it,” he said.

Truong shared the most interesting aspect of the culture to him, which was the level of respect that Chinese students are expected to give their teachers.

“They show a lot more respect to them than American students,” he said. “We always have to stand up to recognize our teachers whenever they walk in the room.”

Teyonna Johnson, a senior at CHHS, and Haven Dates, a freshman from Goshen High School, both agreed that participating in the dancing activities has been the most fun part of the program, so far.

“The dragon dancing has been a lot of fun,” Dates said.

Johnson said the most surprising thing was how difficult calligraphy was. The art is taught to the students in one of the classes.

Liu said the most rewarding part of coordinating this event is seeing all the students get involved and enjoy the program.

“I think it is important to learn about other cultures and languages, so seeing the students get excited about it makes all the effort worth it,” she shared.

The program began July 7 and will continue through July 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, contact Cypress Liu at (334) 808-6544 or e-mail