More Student Updates from the Beijing Academy!
Read today's blog posts written the Beijing Academy students.
Today was probably one of the most dramatic days in camp; a series of events that could be only found in fiction novels and such. It all began with a peculiar, cool, temperature. The sky was gloomy but was white—entirely clouds—and my roommate, Holland and I got breakfast together in a nearby café. We rushed into class as usual, still stuffing ourselves with dumplings. We learned new material, ate lunch with the whole class, and finally, went out on an excursion, I felt like I had survived through a fruitful day successfully—until I heard about a terrorist attack in Nice. One of the girls, Celine, whom her parents and friends were in the site, was bawling. Right before we were going to get on the subway, Holland heard about this occurrence. She seemed very disheartened for a moment, like any other person would react to such news. But then she started trembling. A realization had struck her; her parents were also in Nice. They supposedly had arrived the night before, and the amount of people dead from the attack versus the actual size of the small city made the possibility of her parents being involved very high. However, after she returned to campus, she called her parents and later found out everything was alright. Great relief, happiness, and worrisome feelings swept through me. It was really a day to realize how these somewhat distant tragedies are actual realities; it could happen to anybody. I am just now thankful I could be alive writing this diary.
My day started off well with a cup of coffee and delicious garlic bread from a nearby bakery. Then our 3 hour classes began. I am fortunate enough to have an experienced teacher, Wang lao shi, who makes us listen and read many articles every day. Today, we learned about Chinese traditional festivals. I already knew most of this information from Chinese class at school, but it was a good refresher for my learning. Because I am in the highest class, our teacher gives us many vocabulary sheets of over 30 words each day. Sometimes it can be a little bit overwhelming and I can only really remember about five to ten of the vocabulary words. Later that day we went to Wu Dao Ying; a street filled with cool shops and restaurants. There we had to ask people questions about Chinese festivals. I like this part of exploring the city because we can see if the information we learn in class actually matches up to what Beijing people actually think. Most of the time it does, but I find it especially interesting when it doesn’t. After dinner, a guest speaker came in to introduce a type of folklore music. Sometimes it was hard to understand him, as he spoke with a very thick Beijing accent, but for the most part I could understand his main points. I thought it was very cool how traditional music and music instruments from hundreds of years ago are still being practiced today. Overall, it was a pretty eventful day and I look forward to the events that will occur tomorrow.
Since my last blog we have been to the Temple of Heaven and the Pearl Market as well as a local Chinese school. At the Pearl Market I got to bargain prices, which is quite a bit of fun when you can make the vendor angry. I spent so much time bargaining for a dragon statue that the stall had to alternate vendors because it took an hour to lower that dragon’s price. We had a Chinese man who teaches in Notre Dame come and tell us some funny sentences you can say if you make a mistake in the tones, like asking a waitress for one night’s sleep instead of dinner. We went to a beautiful park with lotuses in a river-like swamp hybrid where there were elderly people playing poker, doing exercises, taking pictures of each other, and singing. This place is really good for retirement! However my favorite place we have been so far I do not know the name of, all I know is it is a popular area where tons of people are singing, dancing, and playing instruments, also when night came the building we were in front of lit up with a red star glowing on a spire and two Chinese flags on both sides of the building.
It feels like MMLA just started to me, but now we only have 10 days left of this camp. Before I came to this camp I wanted to stay in my hometown because I wanted to hang out with my school friends and have fun during my summer break. However, now that I am here, I do not want to go back and I am so proud that I met so many fantastic people here. This MMLA camp was my first camp. It was my first opportunity to meet a lot of people from other countries. Because they are all from different countries, everyone has different views on the same topic like politics or educational systems. It is nice to have a talk with them because they have different perspectives. I can learn more and can be able to see in other people’s point of view. Not only learning other point of views, I also get to improve my Chinese level at the same time because people here in MMLA hang out with all level students, which makes the lower level students improve and higher level students to help the others and also learn too. At MMLA, I have been able to achieve much more than I expected, like improvement in Chinese, learning other people’s views on certain topics, and making friends from all around the world.
Aside from sleeping in for about 30 minutes because I wasn’t feeling up to snuff, today represented a fairly typical weekday here. We had a morning assembly at 8:30, and classes ran from 9 to 12. I was sick, and therefore absent, for half of my classes today, so it was pretty relaxed. We learned how to say different body parts in much more detail than I’ve previously learned. (e.g. leg/knee/shin/ankle/foot/heel/toes, as opposed to just leg and foot). As with every set of vocab, there’s no way I’ll remember all (or even half) of it. I’ll usually circle the more useful/common words and prioritize trying to memorize those, which still makes for a lot of new vocab.
As per usual, we had 文化课 (wen hua ke; culture class) today after lunch. I’m currently taking calligraphy. I had an intense burst of motivation during today’s class – I think I may have found my passion. On several occasions, the teacher complimented my work and prompted me to pursue a career in calligraphy. It’s tempting, but I’m young and want to keep my options open. After all, I still have Tai Chi and Chinese painting to try out.