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UCPS middle and high school students ‘Discover China’

Xiaohong HuMueller, a Chinese teacher at Marvin Ridge High School, shows students how to make a traditional Chinese dumpling during a daylong event held at Cuthbertson Middle School. Also pictured are, from left, Matt Brantley, 18, Jessica Lawing, 17, and Brieanna Van Horne, 18, all students from Parkwood High School.

About 250 Union County Public Schools middle and high school students got a close-up look at Chinese culture and traditions recently during the third annual Discover China, held this year at Cuthbertson Middle School.

Students came to the daylong event from Cuthbertson, Marvin Ridge, Parkwood and Weddington middle and high schools.

“The purpose of having this is two-fold,” said the event coordinator Donna Podgorny, UCPS K-12 World Language Curriculum Coordinator. “One is to help students just be aware of the global world, because China is a very big player in the world economy. And now they predict that we in America will continue to be very strong allies with the Chinese. If our students can get to know them better, hopefully they will feel more comfortable. They’ll feel positive about China and interested in forming positive relationships.”

Podgorny said organizers also hope the event will give students a desire to travel and to learn the language. “Getting to know our international neighbor and trading partner better prepares us to be competent global citizens,” she said.

Three of the presenters are from the Confucius Institute at Pfeiffer University, while the fourth is a teacher at Marvin Ridge High School.

Weihong Yan, director general of the Confucius Institute at Pfeiffer University, taught business etiquette. This dealt with how one should behave, what to wear, how to thank people appropriately and how to avoid offending people.

“Chinese people love making friends,” Yan said. “In America, you focus on the business deal and all the formalities of the business. You get it done and it’s over. In China, when you do business together, you’re friends forever. They call it a long-term friend-relationship and they look forward to one day doing more business. The connections are very important.”

Silan Chen, an instructor at the Confucius Institute at Pfeiffer University, taught a calligraphy class. Students learned that Chinese calligraphy has evolved over the last 5,000 years and is the world’s longest surviving writing system. Students were able to watch a demonstration and then try their own hand at writing calligraphy, using Chinese brushes and ink.

Xiaohue Liu, an instructor at the Confucius Institute at Pfeiffer University, taught papercutting, an ancient Chinese art. “They sometimes put them in windows as decorations, but they also use them for celebrations, like weddings,” Podgorny said.

XiaoHong HuMueller, a teacher at Marvin Ridge High, taught a session called Chinese Banquets. “This class talked about some of the dos and don’ts like if you eat at someone’s home, you wait for the elder to start first,” Podgorny said. “The Chinese table is always round so no one eats at the head of the table, and the guest of honor always faces the door.”

Students also learned how to make a traditional Chinese dumpling filled with cabbage, ground chicken, soybean and shallots.

Funding for the event came from a three-year grant from the Confucius Classroom Network of the Asia Society.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Mar 09, 2012 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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