On November 20, 5 First-year Chinese students and 1 advanced intermediate Chinese student from Duke Kunshan University (DKU) visited Xi Tang Experimental Primary School in Kunshan High-Tech zone. The visit was organized and led by Chinese language lecturer Xu Li, who wanted her students to gain firsthand student-life experience at a local school.
In their first class, DKU students studied classical Chinese poem On the Stork Tower together with pupils from 2nd Year Class 4. Despite the difficulty of learning an ancient Chinese poem, they showed great enthusiasm in participation by actively answering questions and doing class assignments. One DKU student, unwilling to give up any opportunity to practice Chinese, volunteered to read the text and received high praise from everyone.
At noon, DKU students lined up with the pupils to have lunch at the school cafeteria, where they talked over a variety of topics from their names to hobbies. Over a short period of time, they got to know each other very well.
After lunch, DKU students experienced the traditional art of Chinese calligraphy with the help of six “young teachers”. They helped DKU students to learn about traditional stationery like writing brushes, ink sticks, paper and ink-stones and meticulously showed them the proper posture to hold a brush. With the kind instructions from these “young teachers”, DKU students created their own calligraphic work “和美”(harmonious beauty) and “和而不同”(harmony in diversity)
The whole visit lasted two hours, and it provided DKU students a good opportunity to practice their Chinese and to apply their classroom knowledge in real life. It allowed them to experience a local Chinese school’s learning and living environment as part of the Chinese education system. In particular, the study of calligraphy proved to be a great approach for DKU students experience Chinese traditional culture as well as to witness its impact on contemporary China.
For the students at Xi Tang Elementary Primary School, interaction with international students from DKU was not only fun but also a great way to broaden their global perspective. At the same time, teaching Chinese calligraphy to foreign students cemented their interest in and love for traditional Chinese culture.