Confucius Institute at WKU China Experience

The Official Blog Site for the Confucius Institute China Trips

Confucius Institute at WKU China Experience - The Official Blog Site for the Confucius Institute China Trips

Leslie Paul Wilson

The 2013 China Bridge Summer Camp has been an interesting and eye-opening experience for me so far, especially since I have never been outside of the U.S.A. I have had the delight of experiencing some fascinating things along our adventure here in China. I wasn’t terribly adept at using chopsticks upon arrival, so I had to quickly learn how to eat with them or else I was going to be very hungry. When we first set off into Beijing to visit the Summer Palace is when I first got a little taste of China. The cars on the road were very crowded and people use their horns a lot more in China than they do in the U.S. When we finally arrived at the Summer Palace, I was able to experience the vibe of the people. It was extremely crowded and street vendors instantly bombarded us with offers. One vendor offered me 20 yuan for an item and I kept saying no, because I didn’t want it, but to him, that just meant I wanted a lower price. He eventually came all the way down to one yuan. I quickly learned that if I don’t want anything from a vendor, I shouldn’t even look at them or else they will begin to hassle me.

Another awesome experience I ad, was when the president of our host school, gave a tai chi lesson. I have heard of tai chi before, but I never realized how intense it was. After doing only about 15 minutes of it, my legs were weak and I felt very exercised. These Chinese traditions that have been passed down throughout the ages truly are an art form and a way to strengthen the mind and body. I wish to continue studying tai chi when I go back to the united states.

I have learned a little bit of Chinese in the classes that have been offered as well. I think it is a very challenging language and the writing system is very beautiful. After having experienced some Chinese in the classroom, I have decided that I want to continue studying Chinese when I go to University this fall. Overall, this trip has given me a glimpse and some insight into what China is like. It is a very intriguing place and there is always something fascinating to learn or try whether it is the language, the food, the traditions or the people. I hope that in the future and I can come back to China and continue to learn about more aspects of this vast and amazing country.

Madeline Harper Tighe

To many Americans, China is an enigma – an immense country lurking in the East that we hear about on the news but never really understand. We see depictions of foggy mountain palaces carved from single blocks of stone, promising that ancient history will prove eternal; at the same time, apartment buildings rise from dense and bustling metropolises and the titanic promise of industry hovers on the horizon of the global economy.

There’s nothing better to dissuade misconceptions about something than to thrust yourself into it. When I anticipated my trip, I had some idea of what to expect: I’ve been to China once before, on a trip that was mostly shallow tourism. But I’ve never stayed overnight at a school, never really spent time seeing how students my age in China lived. During my stay so far at the Shouguang Century School, the enthusiasm of students for learning – and their enthusiasm for helping us learn – made me admire the studiousness that seems so deeply imbued in Chinese culture.

Being in China has made me appreciate the differences it has from home. The emphasis on hospitality – something which often seems tragically lacking from modern America – is easy to accept as one of the travel-weary. But what I find most admirable about Chinese culture is the vastness of its history. Coming from a country whose story dates back less than three centuries makes me marvel at the relevance of the past, like how students as young as the first grade learn calligraphy — something I had the opportunity to practice with little success.

Much about China still remains a mystery to me – it would be silly to think I could ever understand a country so entirely foreign. But here, I’ve noted similarities in popular culture when chattering with kids my age. Though I’m a person who’s pretty quick to get homesick, the friends I’ve made here – and the enthusiasm of so many to make me feel welcome – have been enough to make a place a thousand miles away feel just a little like home.

La’Jada Jordon Massey

This trip to China has had ups and downs — mainly downs — but my ups are moving very slowly. One of the reasons why it’s moving very slowly is because I get homesick pretty bad and I worry that something bad might happen there and I need to be there just in case. Shandong is very beautiful; all the amazing places and the people here are very quite amazing. The kids at Shouguang Century School are friendly, which makes me feel very comfortable, The School hours are pretty long, one class is 3 hours and that’s really long for just one class. When I went to Qufu I was very amazed at the beauty of “Some Places”. The food here is very good.  It’s actually better than I thought. The beef stew we had today was AMAZING. I am really starting to love this place, but there’s no place like home.

The Best part of China I think is the scenery, very pretty scenery – oh, and plus the history can’t forget about the history here, the history here is quite nice and I can not wait to go to school to tell people I have actually been to The Kong’s family mansion, Temple, and Cemetery, SO COOL, I think I’m lucky because this is like a once in a life time thing for free.

Before I leave China I want to be able to connect to some kids to know that they kind of have the same life as we do.

Amber Nichole Johnson

My experience in the 2013 Summer Bridge trip to China so far has been absolutely amazing.  I’ve always been interested in Chinese culture so I was expecting a lot from this experience, and I haven’t been disappointed in any way.  I especially appreciate having the chance to participate in the Chinese education system at the Beijing Royal School and the Shouguang Century School.  Simple tourists don’t get the chance to experience this part of Chinese culture, so I feel very appreciative of the fact that I can experience it as if I’m a student here myself.  The Chinese students are very welcoming and understanding, as well as helpful and friendly.  I feel as if I’ve truly learned more about China in just these past few days than I have the entire year I took Chinese class at my school in Kentucky.  The sightseeing is also very fun and educational, the teachers and others do a very good job at explaining the history and culture behind the beautiful landscapes and artifacts.  I often ate at Chinese restaurants back in Kentucky, and I was aware that the food was not “authentic Chinese”.  The food here is even better than I could possibly imagine.  Everything that I took a bite of, aside from a few fruits, was delicious.  The scenery here in China is even more beautiful than what I saw in pictures, and even the Shouguang Century School is very nice to look at it.  The classes are very in-depth and informative, but not to the extent of being dull or boring.  The classes are very entertaining as well, and the Chinese students are eager to participate and help us learn even more.  So far, I haven’t had to ask for any extra items of any sort because everything I needed was either provided to me before I asked or was already in my room waiting for me.  I greatly appreciate the efforts of everyone involved in the program and would love to visit China again someday if I ever get the chance.

Linda Aguazul Cruz

Does everyone know how to use the bathrooms here?

I rolled my eyes as some of my classmates listened intently to the teacher as if she were telling them the secret of life. In moments like these I felt superior, part of an elite group, who had experienced this all before. The fond memories of a previous world trip kept surfacing and they only reinforced the idea that my knowledge made me special.

 

Although knowledge is power, it is also true that the more you have the less you know. Many times on this trip I felt frustrated when previous knowledge actually hindered me and I fell into the trap of, “But in Taiwan it was like this. I never saw this there. I think I saw something like this before.” Instead of my mind being open to new things, I realized that I had subconsciously closed it off and was trying to relive previous trips and apply those customs to China. Doing this was not only stressful but also detrimental to the growth of my worldview that could be expanded by the trip.

 

Linda, would you like to say the sentence out loud?

“Uhh…” I looked around the room in confusion as I looked at the letters on the page. Suddenly, I heard a whisper in my ear and like a parrot I repeated the sounds out loud to the teacher.

“Very good!”

I looked thankfully at my savior, a host student with glasses and short jet-black hair, and smiled before continuing the lesson.

In the classroom, I felt helpless as I stumbled through countless Chinese phrases. Although irritated and drained, everyday I left the classroom feeling happier than the day before. During this period of bonding with my Chinese classmates, I forgot about everything else and simply enjoyed the opportunity to learn. Having such understanding classmates and teachers made me feel as if it was ok to ask questions and not know all the answers. Having forgotten that this was a learning experience at the very beginning of the trip, it was refreshing to have a renewed outlook on learning as much as possible.

 

Although the trip is only halfway over, I feel that the time I have spent at the Shouguang Century School has sparked in me the love for learning that had become somewhat extinguished at the start of this trip. My host classmates and the cultural lessons have reminded me of the magic found in learning new things and that the more knowledge you have the less you know about the world.

Daja Carnell

The Shouguang Century School has been to me a some what of a life changing place, if it had not have been for this school and the wonder full teachers. I would not have had the chance to learn about the wonderful Chinese culture and all it has to offer. The students and teachers each uniquely have there own sense of style, much like us Americans, and you have to love there hummer. I can relate to many of the students, in simple way like the movies we love to watch, to what we want to be when we get older. I love how they take such interest in our culture, as do we to theirs, it makes it easier to learn and help teach each other.

There is never a time when you are made to feel uncomfortable, because the whole class is there to encourage you, and the teacher encourage you also. I would have never have imagined that the Chinese food here would be this great, I have tried so many different things, and by far the Sweet Chicken has been my favorite. The chopsticks are not as hard to use as they look I struggled at first but I caught on quickly, and mastered eating rice with them. The places we have been are so educational and moving, I really enjoyed going out during the day and seeing all the places that we had just learned about in class the day before. I enjoyed seeing all the people and the way of life that the Chinese people live it is so amazing.

Alexis Bellamy

My experience at Shouguang Century School has been very educational and eye opening. The students and teachers are like Americans in so many ways, from the sense of style to their sense of humor. I really enjoy having class combined with the Chinese students. Meeting new people, learning the Chinese language and experiencing new students and teachers have been very motivating and fun. We learn from them and they learn from us bridging our cultures. I love the music and dancing. The music is different but very heartwarming. The Century school staff has worked so hard to accommodate for our needs and safety. They are so friendly and kind all the time. The classes today were exciting. My favorite was the Calligraphy. Happiness was the word I wrote and that expresses my feelings for this whole trip. When we went to the Confucius Cemetery it was amazing seeing all the flowers around his tombstone and people bowing in respect for him. The food is wonderful and has a different style. Trying them is exciting as well. The dragon fruit is by far my favorite. It is similar to watermelon. EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!!!!

I LOVE CHINA! <3

Sarah Lynn Angelle (山东Shandong Team 3)

The first day at Shouguang Century School in Shandong province, all we were able to see was the cool rain outside and the warm bed inside. After riding a bus for hours, most of us were in limbo between excitement and exhaustion; exhaustion unfortunately won the battle of the first day. Our time here passed as quickly as a small stream of water filling up a bucket; before you realized it, it was full. If I had known then how quickly time would pass, my eyes would have drunk everything in as soon as possible.

When we awoke we got our first taste of Shandong- breakfast. I had never before liked breakfast; to me cereal was too bland, pancakes and donuts too sweet, and eggs and bacon not to my liking. However, the breakfast choice of all sorts of fruits and meats and rice and beverages quickly washed down my previous distaste. The meals, I am delighted to say, only increased in excellence after that.

Immediately after breakfast we were led to an auditorium filled with Chinese students and educators whose eyes were the first not immediately drawn toward us foreigners, but to the dancers practicing ahead of them, and indeed they were mesmerizing. The opening ceremony included various speeches and not only two dances, but two songs played on the native instruments. As the flower umbrellas used in one of the dances, I felt as if my world was only beginning to bloom. There was peace in every body and a smile on every face that day.

Aside from the decadent food and the bonding Chinese lessons, we were immersed in the culture of China through travel and hands-on learning. Our first trip was to Qufu to visit 孔府 Kong Fu, 孔庙 Kong Miao, and 孔丽 Kong Li. The experience that had the most impact on me in Qufu was the cemetery. It was so peaceful I felt as if the velvet moss were molded to quiet our footsteps and the air to soften our speech. In silence I found a sense of connection to the people within our group, the forest, and the spirits below the ground. The act of bowing to Confucius was only braved by a few American students, myself included. After we bowed to Confucius it began to rain, and I could not help but think that heaven was attempting to cling to us.

Recently we had the opportunity to do a workshop after language class containing different cultural activities. First, a few of us learned the art of paper-cutting. Next, we made clay pottery and were whisked away to Tai Chi. Although my legs felt weak, my mind felt strengthened. Finally, I began to start embroidering a stuffed animal for my sister. I did not finish, but our instructor was kind enough to give me thread, stuffing, and a needle.

I feel as if my life has now been cross-stitched with so many others in only a brief period of time. The content has been stuffed into us in this brief period, filling our stomachs, our minds, and our hearts. I believe that I will bring home a gift that will last forever- experiences. The kindness and hospitality expressed by Shouguang Century School has inspired me to be a bridge of kindness in the future toward all I meet, and I am so grateful to have the experience of visiting China. My passion for learning about the language and culture has increased exponentially. I have learned so many ideas that I can apply to my life when I return home and teach to others, such as Tai Chi in the mornings and paper-cutting for my sisters. All of the students were so quickly enveloped in each others’ company that we placed our happiness in at least ten cameras. I am glad to capture the memories in photographs, but even more glad to memorize them by heart. 谢谢 Hanban for this wonderful experience!

Collaboration at WKU through a Whole New Lens – Part #3

As stated earlier in Part#1, there were multiple simultaneous trips, and this group consists of WKU Alumni/Donor trip, consisting of 22 individuals starting an adventure of their own. The planning for this trip started one year ago, just like the student tour organized by Ms. Tracy Morrison, and led by Mr. Terrill Martin of the Confucius Institute for the planning and management. The 22 person group consisted of Janice Aaron, Henry Baughman, Paula Carver, Margaret Huddleston, Elizabeth Shoenfelt, Ted Cudnick, Dr. David Lee, Laura Lee, Susan Scott, Betty Yu, Stacey Biggs, Raymond & Joyce Cloutier, Kathy Grumbeck, Evell Coomer, Andrew McMichael, Lynn O’Keefe, William Moore, Mary Kelly Lee, Susan Cook, Diana Brown, and Carlene Adams. The alumni/donors set flight on May 12, 2013 for a tour of Beijing, Shanghai, Baoding, and Xi’an. They arrived into mighty Beijing on Monday, May 13, 2013, as the exhausted group settled into their hotels, the very next morning, their first adventure was to scale the mighty Great Wall (Mutianyu Section). The evening ended with a traditional Peking Duck dinner, with special surprise guests Dr. & Mrs. Gary & Julie Ransdell as they welcomed the group to China.

May 15, 2013 didn’t let up for the group as they visited the historic sites of Tian’amen Square, The Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The evening was capped off with the first of four Symphony at WKU performances. The group showed their support at the grand performance on the campus of North china Electric Power University (Beijing)

May 16th, saw the delegation depart from Beijing on a two night excursion in beautiful Shanghai, via the high speed bullet train. Once settled in, the group headed downtown Shanghai to see the famous Shanghai Acrobats take center stage for a 90 minute performance full of mind blowing tricks, precise balance, and accuracy. While in Shanghai sites included a trip to the Jade Buddha Temple, silk weaving worship, Shanghai Museum, and time to shop at the local market. On May 18th, the delegation returned to Beijing to get ready for the 3rd and 4th performances in Baoding, China, which is approximately 2 hours south of Beijing.

The delegation departed on May 19 to Baoding, and instantly went to the historic Baiyangdian Lake where the group traveled by boat across a lake to see the lotus park. On May 20th, the delegation visited the West Qing Tombs, and capped the day with the 3rd performance on the lovely campus of Hebei University.

Next, the final performance commenced, which ended on the campus of North China Electric Power University’s Baoding campus. Dean David Lee welcomed the packed crowd of approximately 1,000 students, faculty and community members to the final performance by the Symphony at WKU. Again, in typical fashion, the night was capped off with “ENCORE” chant, and again, the orchestra complied with the request from the capacity crowd.

The delegation traveled back to the Beijing airport and set flight for a three night, four day trip to beautiful Xi’an (Shaanxi Province), the home of the Terracotta Warriors. This leg of the trip included a tour of the Terracotta Warrior Museum, Pottery workshop, Muslim Quarters, and enjoyed a first class farewell dinner with both the students and alumni groups. The farewell performance included a special “Face Changing” performance.

Alumni/Donor group on the Great Wall. Photo by Stacey Biggs

Alumni/Donor group on the Great Wall.
Photo by Stacey Biggs

The Alumni/Donor delegation eating Peking Duck, with special guests, Dr. & Mrs. Ransdell. Photos by Bryan Lemon

The Alumni/Donor delegation eating Peking Duck, with special guests, Dr. & Mrs. Ransdell.
Photos by Bryan Lemon

The Alumni/Donor delegation eating Peking Duck, with special guests, Dr. & Mrs. Ransdell. Photos by Bryan Lemon

The Alumni/Donor delegation eating Peking Duck, with special guests, Dr. & Mrs. Ransdell.
Photos by Bryan Lemon

 

Alumni/Donor delegation aboard the high speed bullet train to Shanghai from Beijing Photo by Stacey Biggs

Alumni/Donor delegation aboard the high speed bullet train to Shanghai from Beijing
Photo by Stacey Biggs

 

Baiyangdian Lake, Baoding China Photo by Stacey Biggs

Baiyangdian Lake, Baoding China
Photo by Stacey Biggs

 

Musical Fraternity Brothers (Old and New). Photo by Stacey Biggs

Musical Fraternity Brothers (Old and New).
Photo by Stacey Biggs