America’s Confucius Institute at Arizona State University Successfully Holds the 2nd STARTALK Summer Camp
(A group photo of members of STARTALK Summer Camp 2010 from the Confucius Institute at the ASU)
The Confucius Institute at Arizona State University is committed to the promotion of Chinese language and culture in Arizona. Its first Chinese Summer Camp was held in 2009. This year the 2nd STARTALK Summer Camp was held between June 13th and 27th with the sponsorship of STARTALK and the Confucius Institute, the summer camp lasted 15 days.
This year’s summer camp attracted the attention of high school students within Arizona, the organizing committee received applications from 17 school districts in 16 cities. There were ethnically Chinese students, as well as students of other races amongst the candidates., Chinese beginners curious about Chinese culture and intermediate Chinese learners aim to improve their Chinese proficiency. After a careful selection process undertaken by Ms. Fannie Tam, Head of STARTALK program and Confucius Institute Project Manager, 45 qualified to enter the summer camp.
In order to offer different programs for students with different levels of Chinese proficiency, the Confucius Institute asked students to attend an initial test for classifying students into 3 groups according to their Chinese level: beginners, 1-2 year learners and intermediate learners.
Students moved into the Barrett Honorary School of ASU upon signing up for the program. Each morning, bilingual instructors gathered students and took them to different classes to attend a 3 hour Chinese curriculum. At noon students could either take in a buffet in the dining hall or attend the STARTALK summer camp noon activities at which lunch was offered. Student went back to their classroom following lunch in order to attend 3 hour long Chinese cultural study program. During the weekend organizers launched other cultural activities for camp members, including calligraphy, Chinese painting, kungfu, dance, paper cutting, Chinese knot knitting, making dumplings etc. The organizers also set homework for camp members, such as a STARTALK newspaper, STARTALK weekly magazine, family tree production, video clip production, comparisons on sister cities and so forth. These homework assignments taught students through games, letting students put in practice what they have learned and stimulating their passion for Chinese culture and China. Additionally, camp members were able to appreciate others’ work during the noon break and weekend time. Students’ confidence and initiative were effectively boosted through these exhibitions. Many camp members said that the camp has aroused their interest in Chinese; they are willing to learn and hope to travel or even work in China in the future. All camp members said they would love to further their Chinese studies in their communities or high schools for at least one year.
STARTALK camp members have broadened their horizons and local students’ enthusiasm could be seen through the camp. The Confucius Institute intends to launch further activities of such a kind; in order to promote Chinese culture, boost exchanges between Chinese culture and other cultures and provide American students and parents with opportunities to get to know Chinese culture and China.
However, the Confucius Institute has also found out that such short programs cannot have a long-term influence on students without painstaking efforts in the extension of their influence. The Confucius Institute highlighted many routes by which to enhance the effect of the camp. These included allowing students to attend a Collegiate Chinese program through the offer of Confucius Institute Scholarships. The advice was well received by parents.