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3 posts from August 2009

08/13/2009

Program field trip

Our mid-semester trip to Western China is an integral part of our curriculum activities.  Students are given assignments from their area-study course instructors.  Since last year, we have designated a particular theme for each field trip.  Last fall we focused on the relationship between Tibetan religion, sacred sites, and human settlement.  This past spring our students focused on education in the Tibetan area of Qinghai and Gansu Provinces.  The trip is not tremendously long but long enough for our students to experience.  After each trip, it is always exciting to read my students’ journal entries and term papers based on their experiences in Western China.  Besides writing assignments, we also have collective projects such as making a short documentary about we do during the field trip.  I’ll try to upload our previous visual productions for you to download.  If it doesn’t work you contact CIEE main office in Portland for free DVD copies. 

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Qinghai Lake 28

 Guide Town 42

 Qinghai Lake 44

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 Tengchong wetland

08/10/2009

Language learning experience

Although I am not trained as a linguist, I took quite a few courses on different languages while in school, such as Hebrew, Japanese, French, and Tibetan.  Mandarin is my first language but after living in the states for twenty-one years I find myself dream in English and sometimes respond to my Chinese friends in English out of blue.  Currently Tibetan, English, and Mandarin are the most frequently used languages in my daily work and living in Beijing.  My method of learning a foreign language emphasizes the initial stage of mastering pronunciation and building a mental lexicon of approximately 3,000 words.  I found Linguaphone (UK) self-learning method very effective: listening to the recording of each lesson until I could automatically repeat verbatim in the same accent and speed.  It was a bit masochistic but worked.  It was effective for the first two or three months of my learning a new language.  After this initial stage of realigning my oral muscles with the new language, things started getting easier.  My later stages of learning a new language often needed external stimulations, i.e. being around with native speakers, making effort to crack jokes in the new language, reading and writing often in the language, and paying attention to and even imitating the gestures and other bodily expressions of native speakers accompanying what they say.

 

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It is always fascinating to see how my U.S. students’ Chinese language competency grows especially the beginners.  To assist their learning experience, our program arranges language art sessions (calligraphy, stamp carving, paper cutting, etc.).  Of course, we invite local students to join us for a variety of exercises.  Here are some photos of my language-culture activities.

 

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Welcome

Welcome to our program blog page.  Cyberspace is a fascinating environment of human living experience.  It is not as flat as we see on the computer screen.  It compresses both temporal differences and spatial distances.  The whole world appears in the magic touch of our finger tips and yet requires our imaginative faculty to reconstruct it in our mind.  I am very glad to have this blog to share with my anonymous readers worldwide about my experience as the Resident Director of CIEE’s Language & Cultural Studies Program in China.  Please allow me to write when images do not represent my thoughts and to post photos when my words do not speak for the moods and physical environments of our program activities.

I have been R.D. and professor for the program since summer 2007.  Prior to this appointment, I taught at the University of California at Davis, the Graduate Theological Union (the “Holy Hill” in Berkeley), and Sacramento City College.  I received my Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California at Davis specializing in religious studies.  While I was a doctoral student, I was lucky to receive a few grants for both year-long and summer fieldwork in eastern Tibet currently in Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai, and Yunnan Provinces of China.  Since then I always wanted to return to places where I did my fieldwork.  My wish is being fulfilled with this job.  This time I don’t go back there alone but with my U.S. students.

Our host campus is the Minzu University of China in Beijing, formerly the Central University for Nationalities.  It is well known for its anthropology, ethnology, sociology, fine arts, and dance.  It is ethnically the most diverse campus in China.  Over 75% of students are ethnic minorities.  Our program has developed a wonderful working relationship with the University.  They materialize their hospitality to North American students in their spacious dorms and availability of teaching resources.  My reciprocity on behalf of CIEE is to give voluntary public lectures at the University’s Colleges of Ethnology and Tibetan Studies.  It is a great environment to work and live.

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