American students, teachers engage in Chinese poetry-learning in China
Apr 22,2024 Xinhua

SHIJIAZHUANG, April 21 (Xinhua) -- A group of high school students and teachers from the United States have recently immersed themselves in a Chinese cultural learning experience during their visit to China.

Invited by Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School, 32 students and eight teachers from Muscatine High School of Iowa, United States, visited the school in Shijiazhuang, capital of north China's Hebei Province, as part of their week-long study tour to Beijing, Hebei and Shanghai.

In a Chinese poetry class on Saturday, they delved into the ancient poem "Rural Life," which paints a picturesque and idyllic portrait of springtime in a Chinese village.

"Over green grass orioles fly in vernal sky, the mist intoxicates the willow trees. Back early after school, the children try to fly the kites in eastern breeze," reads the famous poem by Gao Ding from the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

"We chose this poem to share with our American friends as they came to China in the springtime," said Bai Xiaofang, a teacher at Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School.

During the one-hour class, the American students and teachers practiced reading the Chinese text with instruction from Chinese teachers. By the end of the session, they had successfully grasped the meaning of the poem, and many felt confident in reading it aloud.

"I've taken a Chinese class in the United States, but we've never done anything like a poem and I think it helped me learn how to pronounce a lot of different words," said Sawyer Zeck, a student of Muscatine High School.

In Muscatine High School, Chinese language is offered as a selective course among other foreign languages, according to Ryan Scott Castle, principal of Muscatine High School.

"It was something different I had never done before, and it was a great experience to have," said Zeck, speaking fondly of this poem-learning experience.

Bai, who joined the learning session, skillfully utilized body language relevant to the poem's meaning, making it easier for the students to comprehend.

Emillie Duran, a history teacher at Muscatine High School, praised Bai's teaching method as vivid and engaging. "It was beautiful, and the teacher was very animated when she explained the poem," she said.

Chinese students at the Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School also assisted their American counterparts in reading and understanding the poem. They had been paired up with the American students in Beijing on Wednesday, the day the delegation arrived in China.

"My partner did a great job of explaining it a couple of days ago and it helped when the teacher talked about the poem," Zeck said.

Castle also expressed his appreciation for the poem, stating that it offered a different perspective on understanding China and Chinese culture.

"It was really good to see the ability to enjoy yourself and relax and be one with nature through this poem," he said.

On Saturday, the American guests also made dumplings and played ping pong at the school with their Chinese hosts.

Bai expressed her hope that the students would have a wonderful journey in China, take home beautiful memories, and come back to China again to experience its vivid and authentic culture once more.

The Muscatine High School delegation is part a China-initiated program that will invite 50,000 American youths to China within five years for exchanges and study. The delegation is the second batch from the school.