Language As Bridge, Culture As Sail
Notes on “Chinese Bridge for American Schools" Tour
A lecture on Chinese history and culture was a major program of the tour. In the morning of the 25th, at Peking University, one of China’s most famous, delegates attended a lecture - “Chinese History and Culture: Tradition and Transformation” given by world-famous sinologist Prof. Kristopher Schipper who eloquently expounded on the evolution of the brilliant Chinese culture from the perspective of a Western scholar. His humorous, enthusiastic lecture appealed to all.
After the lecture, two volunteer Chinese teachers told wonderful stories about their Chinese teaching experiences in America. Their success and experience in teaching and in life were enlightening to the American headmasters, who are deeply aware that the bilateral exchanges in language and culture are significant to the growth of understanding among the youth.
During their stay in Beijing, delegates visited the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, two world-famous tourist attractions. They were deeply impressed by the imposing architectures built with superb skills by Chinese ancestors and the strict hierarchy of ancient Chinese dynasties the architectures reflect. After the visits in Beijing, delegates went separately to Zhejiang, Heilongjiang, Hebei, Hubei and Jiangsu, to further experience Chinese culture and watch Chinese language classes at local schools.
Frank Philip, headmaster of St. Mary Middle School in Oregon, the first to offer Chinese courses in America, has participated in “Chinese Bridge for American Schools” three times. He said: “Through learning Chinese, many Americans now realize that their understanding of China has been inadequate for years. Their interests in China are increasing steadily.”
According to Philip, with the support of Hanban and the Chinese sister school, his school has not only enlisted professionals to teach martial arts, but also offer business Chinese courses to residents and business people in their community. His school plans to offer broadcast Chinese in the community, too. He told the correspondent, this journey enabled him to get to know quite a few Chinese counterparts, with whom he reached some cooperative intent.
Steve Thompson, headmaster of Oregon’s Chagris Falls School that has offered Chinese course for 5 years, plans to cooperate with the Chinese sister school to organize summer camps. He said, “the summer camps will arrange for American children to live with ordinary Chinese families so as to enable them to have person-to-person communication with Chinese people. This will be very helpful for them to learn Chinese and understand Chinese culture.”
During the “Chinese Bridge for American School” tour in Beijing, Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong met with the delegation led by Mr. Caperton in Ziguangge, Zhongnanhai. Liu gave a brief introduction of the current political and economic development of China and stressed the importance and necessity of the all-round exchanges and cooperation between China and U.S. She pointed out, education exchanges as well as language and culture exchanges are important and irreplaceable in bilateral relations.
China and the U.S. are far from each other on the map and too often strangers to each other. However, a unique “Chinese Bridge” transcends time and space and connects the peoples of the two countries.
Those who walked across this “Chinese Bridge” believe firmly that language is a bond connecting people’s hearts and souls, a bridge for exchanging thoughts and a sail that takes people to a bright future. Via this bridge, people are able to listen to each other, acquire mutual understanding and head for a brighter future together.