Guest post courtesy of Alicia Swihart of the IU Honors Program in Foreign Languages:
Bright and early on Saturday, June 7, nine Indiana high school students departed for Hangzhou, China, with Stephanie Goetz, managing director of the Indiana University Honors Program in Foreign Languages.
Coming from several of the top schools in Indiana, including Carmel High School, North Central High School in Indianapolis, Culver Academy, Southport High School and Zionsville Community High School, the students made up the inaugural group for the program’s first site in Asia.
The students returned to Indianapolis after about five weeks with a greater understanding of the Chinese language and culture, as well as a stronger sense of self.
“Establishing a program in China has been the culmination of a project years in the making. We are proud of our first-ever Hangzhou cohort and all they managed to achieve during their five week stay in China,” said Goetz. “We cannot imagine sending a more qualified group of students to inaugurate the Program in Asia.”
Students spent five weeks studying the Chinese language in the classroom with two graduate instructors from IU’s Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at No. 14 high school in Hangzhou.
When students weren’t in class learning about communication, language usage and integrated Chinese from their certified Chinese as a second language teachers, they engaged in activities taught by the high school’s staff members, such as Tai Chi morning exercises, writing Chinese characters in calligraphy and learning how to play a Chinese instrument, hulusi.
Students in the IU program lived with host families in Hangzhou during their five-week stay. They explored Hangzhou with host families and became assimilated to the culture through shopping for groceries, visiting extended host family members and spending time with their new friends.
Throughout the program, students — accompanied by their instructors — went on excursions to explore various other sites and territories in China, including trips to neighboring Suzhou, as well as Shanghai and the country’s capital, Beijing.
Throughout the course of the program, students prepared a farewell show for their host families and administrators at No. 14 high school to thank them for being so welcoming.
Officials from the Foreign Affairs Department of Zhejiang Province also attended the farewell show, as they played a pivotal role in the development of the IU Honors Program in Foreign Languages in Hangzhou.
Goetz first met with Foreign Affairs officials on her site visit to Hangzhou in November 2012 and introduced her to No. 14 high school. Goetz said the collaboration with the school came naturally.
“We’re grateful for our colleagues at FAD for introducing our program to No. 14,” she said. “Given No. 14 is a key school at the provincial level, we knew that their standards and ours would align.”
With the successful completion of its first program in Hangzhou under its belt, the IU program looks forward to sending larger cohorts to China in coming years.
“I learned a lot about Chinese culture and got a lot out of the experience. Also, as this was the first year in Hangzhou, I think we demonstrated admirably that the program can be successful in China,” said Rachel Krieger, a student at Carmel High School and a participant in the program in Hangzhou.