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UCPS middle and high school students discover China

Seventh grade students learn about the Chinese tea ceremony.

Discover China Day, held recently at Marvin Ridge Middle School, gave students from six middle and high schools across the county a unique opportunity to learn more about China. In partnership with the Confucius Institute of Charlotte, visiting Chinese educators led exploratory sessions focused on business etiquette and Chinese culture. Students learned that in China, noodles are not just noodles, tea is more than just a drink and writing has a long history.

Students used ink and brushes to practice writing Chinese characters while verbally repeating the words they wrote. Calligrapher, Zhanli Zhang showed students how the Chinese character for the word “horse” has evolved over thousands of years. “Mr. Zhang has been visiting my class once a week to teach calligraphy,” said MRMS Chinese teacher Mei-HuiWang. “I look forward to Tuesday calligraphy lessons every week,” said Anton Checka as he used his brush to draw a perfectly proportioned character.

Other students enjoyed the session on Chinese noodles. “The Chinese noodles were best,” said Noah Bowman who watched noodles being made and then tasted some. Not only were the noodles delicious but students learned that in China noodles are a symbol of longevity. Noodles are served at birthday parties to celebrate a long and healthy life.

In China, tea is also more than just a drink. Its medicinal properties have been known for generations. Monks drank tea to heighten their spirituality and herbs are infused in tea for flavor and effect. Students had a chance to taste rose bud, oolong and black tea while practicing the correct way to serve and accept a cup of tea. The tea ceremony has a solid place in Chinese culture and serving tea is a way to show another gratitude and respect.

Respect and tradition are key elements of Chinese culture. This is especially important in the business world. The way one presents a business card or shakes hands can affect a partnership. Students learned rules for business etiquette from Ms. Yan Cao and Ms. Jing Yan. In China, when you do business you create friendships and it is important to know what to wear, how to act and what is acceptable in Chinese culture.

China is now one of the biggest players in the global economy; some of these students might be working with Chinese businessmen some time in their career.

“Through Discover China Day, we hope to make students more aware of the global world and create greater awareness of China,” said Donna Podgorny, the World Language Curriculum Coordinator who spearheaded the planning of Discover China Day.

The teachers from the Confucius Institute were wonderful presenters. “All the students were highly engaged in every part of the lessons and it was obvious they were not only learning but also enjoying the experience,” said Brita Mann, MRMS media coordinator. It is through these partnerships that friendships are established, increasing our students’ understanding of their global community.

Funding for this event came from a grant with the US-based Asia Society.


Written by: Brita Mann, MRMS media coordinator
Posted: Mar 11, 2014 by Brita Mann

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