By Dean Andrew E. Kersten I have been dean of the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences for almost three years. Among the most exciting parts of my job is overseeing the University of Idaho’s Confucius Institute. Working with Dr. Matt Wappett, Dr. Hexian … Continue reading Creating a UI-China Connection
All new Chinese language learners want a Chinese name, but how does one come up with a good Chinese name? There are three main methods, which discussed in this article below. This article has been recommended to us by our Chinese Director Dr. Xue. The … Continue reading What’s Your Chinese Name?
2016年8月17日踏上美国这片土地，开始了一段传奇的体验。那时的我就想象着，未来这一年将会有怎样的体验。 美国初印象 来美国的这一个多月的时间，平日生活里感受到了点点滴滴。首先是当地人的热情和礼貌。一个人走在路上你会看到陌生人对你微笑和打招呼，刚开始你可能会觉得不习惯，其实这是当地人友好的表现，慢慢的你也开始会对路上遇到的陌生人微笑和打招呼，这大概是环境带来的潜移默化的改变吧。美国人很容易就成了见面熟，无论是谁，第一次或者第几次见面，他们的招呼语总是:”Nice to meet you!”道别语总是:”Have a nice/good day/night!”他们很感恩，哪怕你给他提供了微不足道的帮助，都会”Thank you”。这里人与人、人与自然之间的关系非常和谐。我几乎没看到过成人之间、儿童之间、家长和子女之间吵架的。人们的神态都非常安详、从容，过得也很闲适。每次乘客跟司机见面，总会彼此亲切地”Hi/Hello/Good morning/afternoon/evening”，下车时，乘客们总不忘”Thank you”，司机总是说:”You are welcome. Have a nice/good day/night!”或者”Take care.”在车上，由于坐的总是那么一些人，长期下来，大家都彼此熟悉了，所以人们总是有说有笑，亲密无间的交谈着。在这里人与人的尊重和礼貌让我感受到阳光和春天，让我感到无比温暖。民风淳朴的莫斯科小镇，夜不闭户也能安稳的睡个觉。这里成活成本低，公共交通免费，环境优美，人民友善，是一个宜居的小镇。地广人稀，少了份城市的嘈杂，多了份内心的宁静。而如今秋意盎然的小镇，也别有一番风味！ 教学初体验 我任教的学习是Moscow High School和Moscow Charter School，教学可以说是我主要的工作。第一次在异国教授汉语，内心多少都会有点紧张和担忧。对于美国孩子的课堂教学和管理，我们甚是欠缺。所以上课之初向有丰富经验的教师们请教并听课很有必要。比如去听法语课、西班牙语课，了解一下他们是如何教学的，会对汉语教学有很大帮助。我的教学对象既有高中生也有初中生和小学生。每一到周五上午8点开始莫斯科高中生的汉语一（零基础）和汉语二（一年汉语基础）的课程。美国高中生并非想象中的难于管理，相反他们非常配合老师的教学和活动，他们的学习能力较强，一堂课下来会比较轻松，但备课的内容相对会较多。当然，课堂不建议一直说教，穿插活动、游戏活跃课堂气氛会比较好。高中生基本每天都有汉语课，而且一堂课一个小时。每天教授汉语未免太过乏味，每周的文化课和武术课也是调节气氛的重要方式。对于淘气、顽皮坐不住的美国中小学生来说，游戏和儿歌是最有效的教学方式，让他们在唱中学、跳中学以及玩中学，他们才能爱会汉语。当然语言教学里不开文化教学，所以我们每周都会有一堂文化课，如剪纸、毽子、书法、太极、电影、歌曲、服饰和美食等等，中国文化博大精深，可以教授的远不止这些，还有很多很多。不同的中国文化课给学生们打开了一扇了解中国的文化之窗，通过文化之桥，培养他们对汉语的兴趣。 生活初体验 位于美国西北的莫斯科与中国南方的广州气候极为不同。这边秋高气爽的时候，广州依然处于燥热时期。这里的秋季色彩斑斓，美到心坎里，如同置身在童话世界一般。在这里生活很舒服，唯独不太适应的是食物。中美食物差距甚大。一日三餐以米饭为主食的中国人来到这里吃上几天汉堡薯条大概一个多月都再也不想吃了。中国的饮食文化历史悠久，博大精深，从美食天堂的中国来到汉堡薯条的国度，学会自己做菜是必须技能。地广人稀的地方，车是你的生活必须，室友是有车一族，可以时不时的带上我们外出兜上一圈，甚是庆幸。 想分享的还有很多，日后再一一道来。总之在美国的日子每一天都在成长。而如今的我内心充满了感恩，感恩我能拥有这段宝贵的异国教学经历；感恩周围善良热心的同事，让我的美国生活充满阳光；感恩孩子的天真灿烂，让我仿佛回到了童年。感恩每一天！
Over the past weekend we hosted our first film festival at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Center in honor of the 12th annual Confucius Institute Day. We decided to focus our film series on Chinese food and tea culture, specifically as it has informed American’s perceptions … Continue reading Valuing Food and Cheer in China!
Hi everyone! My name is Moriah Lenhart-Wees and I’m The University of Idaho Confucius Institute’s new Program Specialist. I’m excited to help connect people in the Boise community to the great UICI programs we have. By way of introduction, let me give a little background on how I came to learn Chinese and love China.
Among people who know me, there is a running joke that China is trying to kill me. But like all tragic love affairs, I just can’t stop going back to it. China has a way of being brutally humbling with you. But after you survive—and so far, I always have—you feel stronger, more invincible, and more in love with China than you ever were before.
My first trip to China was in summer 2008 during the Beijing Olympics. It was most definitely a fascinating first glimpse of an ancient country that was trying its best to be a modern superpower. Skies were blue in Beijing at that time (an occurrence I found to be much rarer in later visits). My dad had brought me with him on a business trip to the Olympics and it was a day that he had to work and couldn’t go out and explore the city with me. Though I did not speak any Chinese whatsoever and had grown up in a small city (or tiny city by Chinese standards), I wouldn’t let that deter me and I decided that I could look at a map, hop on the subway, count the stops to Tiananmen Square, get off and have a look around and then hop back on, count backwards, and find my hotel. It should be easy, I thought. Right? Wrong.
As soon as I got off the subway, I was awash in a sea of people. Chinese people came up and gestured that they wanted to take pictures with me. I suspected my blonde hair was responsible for the extra attention. After a series of photos and wandering around in awe of all the commotion—an Olympic bicycle race rushed right past me so I was giddy with having seen an Olympic event, however briefly and accidentally, for free. But my mood was quickly dampened when I noticed my flip flop had torn and my right foot was left defenseless against the hot pavement.
I tried to drag my worn sandal beneath my foot but quickly realized it might be easier just to find and buy a new pair. Naively I reasoned that with millions of people mulling around there must be millions of shoes waiting to fit millions of feet. But between the combination of my inability to speak Chinese to seek help finding what I needed and the size of my big American feet… buying a new pair of shoes turned out to be quite the feat… see what I did there? I wandered around for hours looking for shoes and getting myself more and more lost in China’s capital city. I thought I would never find my hotel
and would have to live out the rest of my days lost, confused, and barefoot in Beijing. I hysterically thought I might not survive my first trip to China!
Finally, a kind Chinese college student named Honky came to my rescue. He spoke some English and helped me find the Chinese equivalent of a Walmart and buy the Chinese equivalent of Crocks—the ugly pieces of rubber being the only footwear to actually fit me, I kid you not. Honky and I chatted and he gave me my first Chinese name: 茉莉花， Molihua meaning Jasmine flower and sounding kind of like my English name Moriah. Spoiler alert: Honky helped me find my way home that day and I did not die lost in Beijing. He and I exchanged emails and kept touch in English throughout my senior year of high school. After I decided that I loved languages and challenges enough to pursue a degree in Mandarin in college, we began to exchange emails in Chinese well. He was my pen pal for many years and that experience proved how valuable language learning can be—it can forge new friendships and get you out of sticky situations.
The second time China tried to kill me was in 2011. I touched down in Beijing for a fall semester of study abroad on a dreary, cold day after just spending a warm summer in a tropical Taiwan town. My body must have gone instantly into shock. I immediately felt a cold coming on and couldn’t breathe very well. Within a couple of days, the cold developed into a full blown sinus infection. At first, I wasn’t alarmed and tried various remedies: cold medications of both Eastern and Western origin and hot tea. I saw no improvement. A few weeks into my sickness, I visited a doctor, who suggested I try Chinese acupuncture. Begrudgingly I allowed a series of needles to be stuck in my face (no, it didn’t hurt) and then received small shocks to the areas around my sinuses (yes, it did hurt). I even tried fire cupping, which to this day I do not understand, but I was getting desperate and willing to try anything to be able to breathe again. But alas, nothing worked and my sinus infection kept its death grip on me. I went and saw other doctors—by this time I was an expert at explaining my plight in Chinese. I had memorized so many new and exotic terms to describe my disgusting condition that my Chinese teachers even taught our class a Chengyu (traditional saying) in my honor: 久病成医 meaning “a longtime illness makes the patient a doctor.” On the linguistic bright side, I could now fully diagnose myself, list my symptoms and request treatment in Chinese. The new doctors gave me some antibiotics, which helped temporarily but when the pills were gone, the infection came back and spread then to my eyes and ears. I was a sorry sight.
At night, after hours of difficult Chinese homework, I would skype my parents back in Idaho and complain that I might not survive, that I might just suffocate to death in Beijing. Admittedly, I may have been a tad dramatic in my state of illness. My mom offered to fly me home and reassured me that I could finish the semester early, but something inside of me told me to stay (perhaps it was pride or my desire to prove to China that I could survive whatever it threw my way). I finished out the semester in Beijing, despite looking and feeling like a zombie. That semester I learned more Chinese than I had the two previous years combined and advanced to a very proficient level in the language. My tones improved, my knowledge of grammar was strengthened and I got lots of conversation practice both in and outside the doctor’s office. When I arrived back to Boise, still sick, I realized how much I had accomplished. My Mandarin had gotten quite good and I felt grateful to China for pushing me past what I thought I was capable.
The third and last time China tried to do me in actually wasn’t really China’s fault. I just happened to be in China during one of my worst moments (okay, let me be honest, worst months) and China will forever be my companion in those dark memories, while also being the light at the end of the tunnel that saved me. I was a student in the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship Program in Chengdu and I was living in China for a few months after my graduation from Georgetown University. Not long after I arrived in Chengdu, my long term relationship ended. As Charlie Brown would have said were he in China, “nothing takes the taste out of spicy rabbit head quite like unrequited love.” Needless to say, it was a rough time and instead of taking full advantage of the deliciously spicy food, the cute panda bears, and the fantastic Chinese classes, I found myself in a whirlwind of emotion. It was hard to be in China away from everyone I knew and unable to express myself with the same depth and complexity as in my native English. Unfortunately I was focusing on all the negatives and I thought to myself, “Curse China and the despair I feel here! I knew China was bad luck for me!”
But one day on my way to my rigorous Chinese classes, I was walking through the most intense rain storm I’ve experienced. Even my umbrella couldn’t save me from the torrential downpour so I gave up and strolled by the edge of a pond on campus soaking up the rain. The pond was dirty and grimy looking, but in the midst of it, I spotted a lotus flower floating there—just bobbing cheerfully under the pounding rain. Right then and there, I decided that I, like that lotus, would emerge from a messy, ugly situation more radiant and full of life than before.
I spontaneously decided to get on a bus from Chengdu and go hike Mount Emei, considered to be one of China’s four most divine Buddhist mountains. My plan was to hike up and down in one day and board a bus back at night to return to Chengdu. Unfortunately, my failed sense of direction led me to take a wrong turn at some point and as dusk began to fall on the mountain, I realized I would not be getting back on a bus that night. I had to seek refuge at a Buddhist monastery deep in the forest of the mountain. That night the grounds of the monastery were so utterly dark that I saw more stars than I had ever seen before, even after my childhood of camping out in my own private Idaho wilderness. All the stars seemed to tell me that this world was much bigger than we can ever imagine and perhaps the things we see as problems are just the next step in our journey. I may have been feeling overly philosophical on top of that mountain in the middle of China, but my feeling of hope was only heightened the next morning when I was awakened by monkeys (yes, monkeys!!) howling and jumping across the tin roof of the monastery. I rushed outside just as the sun was beginning to rise over the mountains and the view was truly magnificent. It lived up to the gorgeous landscapes found in Chinese paintings. A thin layer of mist rested on the treetops and the sky was streaked with brilliant colors. A red Buddhist structure stood off to the side and lush green vegetation was all around. While Buddhist monks used slingshots to keep the monkeys at bay, the first rays of sunlight hit my face and I felt an enormous, involuntary smile creep across my face. In that moment, on top of Mount Emei in the Sichuan province of the Middle Kingdom— after so much sadness– I felt authentically happy. Happy to be in this country that I still needed to learn so much about. Happy to be learning one of the most complex and beautiful languages in the world. Happy to be alone in the country with the world’s largest population because I was really just minutes away from meeting someone with whom I could forge a lifelong friendship. I realized that in that moment, I possessed the two things that make initiating friendships possible—a smile and the ability to communicate with another human being… in Mandarin no less! It was a glorious morning on Mount Emei and it was a glorious realization that everything was going to be okay and I would not, in fact, die in China—not from getting lost and stranded in monstrously large city, not of a terrible, incurable sickness, and most certainly not because of a broken heart.
China had once again pushed me to grow and change, and in the end, I not only survive— I thrived! Learning Chinese has given me the ability to navigate unknown territory (and only get mildly lost, just as I do on a daily basis in my own country).
Learning Chinese opened the door to a billion new friendships. Learning Chinese taught me diligence, perseverance, and discipline. And at the end of the day, if you can commit to studying Chinese and loving China (thorns and all), you can do just about anything.
Maybe it’s best not to compare my relationship with China to an ill-fated love affair, but instead to something more akin to the tiger mom I never knew I wanted. It will watch me fall on my face and make me get back up, and then when I finally figure things out for myself, it will give me a knowing wink, and whisper, “I knew all along you could do it.” And then I can’t help but feel insanely proud for getting through, expressing myself in a new language and culture, and embracing life.
That’s what China does. It teaches you to embrace life—the good, the bad, the ugly. In Chinese there is a Chengyu (traditional saying) that describes the ups and downs of life: 酸甜苦辣, literally meaning sour, sweet, bitter, spicy—all the flavors that make for a magnificent, albeit challenging meal called life.
中国我爱你。 China, I love you.
1. Studying just one semester with us qualifies you for amazing and very attainable study abroad scholarships! 2. Just two semesters of Chinese can fill 8 credits of language, international and humanities requirements! 3. UI’s Modern Language and Business degree. This degree allows you to … Continue reading 20 Reasons to Study Chinese at the University of Idaho