Summer 2014, Issue I
There's no place like Beijing!
Though the 2014 Summer Intensive Chinese Language program is coming to an end, students still have so much more to do before they leave. What they have done already, though in a little over four weeks, though, is impressive.
New Life, New Challenges
After getting here on June 15, students hit the ground running the very next day with a trip to Tiananman Square followed by a welcome lunch of Beijing Duck. After coming back to the CIEE office, they went off with the CIEE tutors for a tour of PKU's imposing campus, maps in hand!
The rest of the week featured lectures by Pat Lucas on intercultural communication, a requirement for students who live in homestays, as well as a lecture on environment, which was a pre-requisite to participate on one of the two themed excursions
New Area Studies courses
On top of regular language courses, students now have the opportunity to take 1-credit courses, including HSK test preparation course, learning Chinese through drama, and Issues in Contemporary Chinese Society. The first two courses, allow students to focus on different language learning techniques. The HSK course gives students the background on how to study for the HSK Chinese proficiency test by introducing the format, going over structure, key grammar points, and strategies for preparing on one's own. Learning Chinese through Drama which in Chinese is literally translates to Performance Chinese (表演汉语), students study to perform scripts from short plays, while receiving instruction on key points of each play. Stand outside the classroom during this class, and all you will hear is non-stop laughs. Though as students giggle their way through scripts, the intonation, and improved speaking techniques they have learned are seriously impressive!
Students this semester have also responded positively to the aforementioned Issues in Contemporary Chinese Society course, taught by our summer Resident Director, Mattew Chitwood. Though more of an overview of China, students have responded enthusiastically to the points covered thus far, including sustainable development in China, China's housing bubble, and Chinese civil society. As part of the class, students are required to attend CIEE's expert lectures. While optional to other students, these lectures fit in with the topic covered in that week's class, and thus far have included lectures by the US Treasury attaché at the US Embassy in Beijing, and will conclude with a talk by a Senior Program Officer from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Beijing office.
Once again, CIEE students visited the countryside and the ultra-modern port city of Dalian. Students, each time, are consistently contrasting their surroundings with those of Beijing. For CIEE staff, many of whom have been to these locations multiple times, find themselves constantly second-guessing themselves with the rapid change that takes place not only in the Dalian, but also the rapid changes to rural areas in Shanxi and in Hebei provinces.
Countryside - Shanxi, Hebei
In the countryside, students and teachers encountered some of the best weather of 2014. Blue skies welcomed students to rural Shanxi as they climbed a section of great wall made of pressed mud, and unlike when spring students made this trip in May (when it snowed!), students enjoyed perfect weather during their village stays, and many families with their new foreign members, were able to weed potatoes uninterrupted that afternoon.
The seaside - Dalian City
Things went smoothly in Dalian, where students and teachers examined the foreign influence of the Russian's, Japanese, through architecture, cuisine, and other historical sites. Students hit the big time when they spotted an unclaimed 100 RMB note sitting next to a parked police car, no less, and proceeded to buy everyone pastries and ice cream!
CIEE Beijing Welcomes you! CIEE北京欢迎你！
As more of a general news item, the CIEE office finally returned to a state of normalcy as renovations capped the end of CIEE Beijing's half year move to its new location on the southeast corner of Peking University's campus. The Shaoyuan Building #2 was CIEE Beijing's home for decades, is currently being renovated and once complete, will become housing for undergraduate Chinese PKU students. Because of this, the CIEE office is now on the southeast corner of PKU campus in the newly refurbished Taipingyang Building. With a more wide-open office plan, the new office features almost double the size of our old office, for students to study, as well as our very own dedicated classroom that overlooks Beijing's Zhongguancun district.
Students come here for their Language and Culture Practicum course, as well as one-on-one tutorial sessions. On top of that, the free water, air-conditioning and, most importantly, free Wi-Fi, make the office a popular destination for students to come and study or in some cases, simply relax!