Posts Tagged ‘china’

Getting Your Feet Wet!

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

While some Mary Washington students were busy waiting in line for a hot air balloon ride on Ball Circle, a group of students trickled into an empty room in the history building, Monroe. Egg rolls, sodas, and Chinese candies waited for these students on a long table in the front of the classroom by a blank sign-in sheet. On April 16, 2009, Thurday, I held a, I think successful, presentation on the Chinese language. My aim was to introduce students to Chinese with an aim at dispelling the myths about this complicated language. Let me ask you this, when someone tells you, “Hey, I am taking Chinese,” isn’t your first reaction “Wow, that’s really impressive?” or “Man, that sounds super difficult!” I stood at the classroom, stoked to see so many students. I had been worried that people wouldn’t bother to show up. Up in the classroom, I joked with the students to get everyone feeling comfortable. A nice icebreaker: some hilarious videos to warm up the crowd. I started with a Taiwanese band, SHE, and their song Zhong Guo Hua (中国话)which talks about how everyone in the world is learning Chinese. Granted that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it is catchy as all get out!

From there I added one other video in. Asian History professor Susan Fernseber used this video the very first day of her Asian Civ 1 course (HIST 141). The video, shown below, while we laugh at the way the Onion does a satire on the way Westerners view the sort of East mythos, can we be so sure that we ourselves don’t do exactly that? My peers laughed at the broad conclusions the newscasters came to, yet when posed with this question, they agreed. We do not understand China nearly well enough.

From there I went on to outline what really makes Chinese difficult, yet always being sure to highlight the necessity of the language, which I hope if you are reading this you agree with me that it is in fact important. China is the up and coming star (ironic pun yes) that we need to be able to work closely with. Americans can no longer be content with knowing how to order chinese food. Right now (现在)is the time to get a handle on the language. I started with “We as college students need to be thinking of ways to work with China. We need that language.” Over the past week, I have been fairly obsessed with using Prezi. It makes for a highly interactive presentation. Check out my Chinese Presentation if you get a second or two.

I really felt that this was a successful presentation. I got 26 people to come and learn some basic phrases such as, “你好,你叫什么名字?“ We also sang a farmer’s song called Sesame Oil, thanks to Prof. Fernsebner’s suggestion. The song has an interesting place in history in and of itself, which could only be done justice with a different post rather than an aside. At the end of the talk, many of the Chinese 102 students came in and talked about their personal goals and individual pursuits, and how these relate to their study of the language. I felt proud of my classmates (同学). Hopefully as the years go by the UMW Chinese program will flourish to brilliancy. But it takes students making sacrifices and pouring their energies out to create such a program. Faculty and Chairs of departments can only do so much. The student’s voice is a quiet rumble in the distance, calling for a thunderstorm’s approach.