Fifth Annual Summer Camp for Florida High School Students to China
July 15, 2017
The USF Confucius Institute (CI) continues its support in organizing the fifth annual Florida high school students for study trips to China. With support from the Hanban and Qingdao University, the CI sponsored 17 high school students for a total immersion experience in Chinese language and culture from June 19 to July 3.The students and their parents were very excited about the opportunity and happy with the experience. Despite minor travel challenges, all participants expressed strong appreciation for the experience of a lifetime, with some already thinking of going back to study.
The 17 students came from 15 schools across Florida, which will have positive impact on the Chinese programs in more schools. They were led by two experienced chaperones (Mrs. Yan Li and Paula Fryer from Ponte Vedra High School) to three Chinese cities: Beijing, Qingdao and Qufu.
After touring Beijing’s historical sites such as the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City (Palace Museum) and tasting the authentic Peking duck, they took the high-speed train to Qingdao for a week-long learning experience organized by the College of International Education of Qingdao University. The experience includes morning class sessions on practical Chinese conversations and hands-on activities, and practice in the afternoon at such places as the Qingdao Museum, Library, shopping markets, a senior center, and local schools. They also experienced trying the Han Dynasty costumes, tea ceremony, learning Taichi and Gongfu, and paper-cutting.
The most unforgettable events include a gathering with senior citizens at Jinmen District and attending the graduation ceremony of the Laoshan #3 High School, where they built friendship with the local community and their peers through sharing cultural performance and intimate conversations. Many people at Qingdao University contributed to the camp, particularly the local teacher Mr. Han Wei and coordinator Ms. Li Fang. Then the participants went to Qufu to see the Confucius Temple and Forest. The short visit at Qufu helped them to gain a better understanding of the Confucius philosophy and its influence on the Chinese society.
According to feedback from students and chaperones, the biggest benefits of the academic experience abroad included a better understanding of China and making Chinese friends. The students are grateful to the camp sponsors and are very impressed by the friendly Chinese and achievements such as the Beijing Airport and high-speed train. It is expected that their experience will not only help with their learning of Chinese language and culture, but also help with the Chinese programs at their schools. The purpose for organizing such trips is to increase the understanding of China and improve American-Chinese friendships, a successful outcome of the visit.