IPS in China: Chengdu TwoJune 23rd, 2013 at 5:44 pm by Eric Halvorson under Eric Halvorson's Blog
We were immediately impressed with Chengdu when we arrived on June 19th and have quickly fallen in love with the city. A quick comparison would be Beijing to New York and Chengdu to Indianapolis…less traffic, lots of beautiful gardens and greenery, and a relaxed pace of life.
After getting settled at our university hotel, we attended a 6th grade graduation ceremony on the West campus of Chengdu. We will be working and teaching at the main campus of the Experimental Primary School Affiliated with Sichuan University (EPASU). There is also an East campus. Each campus has over a thousand students in grades 1-6.
We were quite inspired by the beauty of the 6th grade ceremony honoring and celebrating the two hundred students. The ceremony was outdoors in the courtyard, full camera crews were present, the students wore graduation gowns and caps, and their parents walked them up the aisle to receive their certificate. Later all staff walked the carpeted aisle including the school cooks.
The ceremony, truly about celebrating all that the students had learned and their continued journey, included tributes by teachers, students, and parents. One parent comment expressed excitement toward the next step and the preparedness of their child. Another parent said the school was like another mother in their care for the child. The 6th graders’ wishes, written when they entered grade 1, were displayed on boards.
On June 21st, we began our work at the main campus of EPASU, preparing the classroom and meeting the students. We had sent photos and given a visual tour of Ann’s classroom to the schools as were preparing for the visit. We were very excited to see their creation of our classroom. Tables had been provided for student seating in collaborative groups. A group meeting place was readied library books, carpets and comfortable seating. The walls were covered with student work, learning charts (in this case English words for things like the weather, family member names and foods). They also had a display in the room chronicling how the room was put together. This included before shots of the room, pictures of them video chatting with us, students putting together the student-made posters for the walls and teachers helping move tables and furniture around the room. Once again, NASCO had supplied the room with the science materials needed for our demonstration lessons.
Then came the time to meet the students. Like the students in Beijing, both the third grade and fifth grade students were very excited to meet us. We answered any questions they had and then talked about the lessons we would be doing with them the next day. Their prior knowledge and English were probably not as strong as the first group of students we had, so we are working on additional ways to help the students as we begin the lessons.
After meeting the students we enjoyed lunch on campus and then headed to the ancient city of Ludai. This city, over 400 years old, is on the eastern side of Chengdu and was our shopping stop before we visited the East campus of the elementary school. This city had small shops that lined the stone, brick and rock streets. It also had two small (maybe 18 inches wide x 1 foot deep) waterways that went down both sides of the street. You had to step over the waterway or wait for a small bridge if you wanted to go into the shops.
Some of our favorite beautiful sites have been on the school campuses. We have loved all of the small ponds, beautiful gardens and water features we have seen. This campus was no exception. We also were able to participate in two different classes in what they call their function rooms. The first class was a traditional calligraphy class.
The students taught us, step-by-step, how to hold the brushes and write Chinese characters. My teacher was very strict!
We wrote the characters on large pieces of paper we first had to divide into sections. As we wrote the characters we dipped our brushes into ink that was on our tables. The students gave us each a gift they had written on special red paper. It had two characters on it and it stood for “happiness into your home”.
We then went into the next function room were they did paper rolling. They rolled slender strips of paper and glued them either onto paper or to each other to make different objects like flowers in pots or pandas for example. Our friend, Nick, who is traveling with us from the U.S and working with the conference, experienced the paper cutting.
After a dinner we all walked down the street to learn how to play MahJong at a teahouse. The assistant principal (known here as “vice president”) traveling with us was very excited about us wanting to learn how to play this game. It is a favorite game here and we noticed many people playing it in the different areas we’ve traveled. We learned the basics of the game, although I am still confused about how you deal the playing pieces. What we thought was really amazing was that there was an actual MahJong table that we played on that would automatically mix up the playing tiles (similar to dominoes except with circle and rod designs) underneath the table and then bring them up from below all stacked and ready to go.
In our next blog we look forward to sharing our teaching and conference experience in Chengdu.