Dear parents, families, and friends of our '00 summer China FSP participants:

Now that we have settled into a nice routine and have gotten over the initial

"culture shock" (none, really...), I thought that I should send a brief note to

update you on what has transpired over the past two and a half weeks. I'll focus

mostly on the academic side, since my able assistant Phuoc has been keeping you

well posted as to our students' extracurricular and recreational activities and

their campus-life.

We have divided our language classes (Chinese 22/23) into three sections: two

"true beginner" sections and one "heritage student" section. For each of the two

"true beginner" sections, we simply divided up the "roommates", assigning each

to a separate section, as language competency amongst this year's true beginners

did not, at the end of '00 Spring Term, vary greatly, so that it was relatively

easy for us to "randomly" divide the 22 students into two sections. There are

seven "heritage students"--an ideal size for a language class. Responsible for

our three language sections are 5 BNU instructors. We have devised a system

whereby we "rotate" the instructors so that each of the three sections, over the

10-week academic term, will have had the opportunity to be taught by at least

three or four of the five instructors. Thus far, all is well: as always, the BNU

teachers have been caring and attentive to our students, both in and out of the

classroom; and the students have reciprocated with respect and affection.

As for the third course (taught by myself), it "feels" huge--30 people in a

not-too-big room in weather of 95-100 degrees F. However, we do have a

medium-sized air-conditioner and one working fan. I designed the course (The

Chinese Language and Its Writing System) in a way such that we can integrate--to

the extent possible--much of the materials introduced into our language classes,

and hopefully, into the students' over-all Beijing/China experience. I hope that

the FSP, as a whole, is internally coherent, and that all of its components,

academic or otherwise, are mutually re-enforcing.

Two extracurricular classes, Calligraphy and Chinese Shadow Boxing (taiji or

tai-chi), began on Monday, June 26. There are 15 students signed up for

Calligraphy, and 16 for Shadow Boxing. The Calligraphy class will meet once per

week, each session lasting 2 hours; Shadow Boxing will meet twice per week, each

session lasting 1 hour.

We started our traditional "Friday Chinese-language Table" last week (and

actually, I should say "Chinese-language Tables" because this year we find that

we need 4 tables to accommodate our 30 students and 6 teachers...); this

"language table" program has been an important part of the China FSP since the

mid-80s, the event taking place every Friday around noontime. We (i.e., the

teachers) take turns preparing a "menu" (a written version is handed out to the

class beforehand) and selecting a place (usually in one of the three campus

dining facilities). This provides an opportunity for the students to interact

with their teachers in an informal, out-of-class setting, and at the same time

allows them to learn a bit about some typical Chinese dishes (including their

names) and a bit about the etiquette of sharing a meal with Chinese people--food

being an essential aspect of Chinese social life.

So, as you can see, our students have been kept quite busy. Some have bemoaned

the workload, but in general they are cheerfully meeting their teachers' demands

and performing well.

I'll write again when I have a chance.


Hua-yuan Li Mowry