Summer language experience to bloom in August

In early August, the Fargo Public Schools will hold an immersion experience into the Chinese language and culture for the first time.

The Chinese Language and Culture Program will take place weekdays August 5-16, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at the Bluestem Center for the Arts in Moorhead. It will bring the elements of Chinese society to students through the teaching of Chinese language instructors Chongmin Ji (FPS), Wei Wei Qian (Moorhead), and Professor Tsuo-wen Chao (MSUM).

The two-week program is set up like a camp for attendees on the grounds of Bluestem. The camp will utilize the outdoor facilities as much as possible, and will use curriculum based on the animals of the Chinese zodiac. During activity time, students will learn ancient Chinese art, calligraphy, ink painting, and paper cutting; traditional music and songs; and Chinese dance, tai chi, and traditional Chinese exercise. Technology will also be incorporated for both age groups in games and activities; the middle school group will be making “glogs” (graphical blogs) – interactive online posters that will include photos, text, video, and voice – as one of their projects.

No cultural experience would be complete without involving the cuisine. Meals, which are included at no cost, will be provided by two authentic Fargo Chinese restaurants – Lucy’s North China Cuisine and The Great Wall. Students will learn to eat with chopsticks, and will also have  hands-on experience making dumplings.

During downtime, students will have opportunities to play Chinese sports, such as ping pong and hackey sack. The Chinese hackey sack is made with feathers; students will get the opportunity to make their own.

This year’s experience also includes a one-day field trip to the Concordia Language Villages International Day, held near Bemidji. At the end of the camp, participants will hold their own celebration of the Chinese New Year and compare it to American celebrations.

The Chinese Language and Culture Program is funded entirely by a federal STARTALK grant. The goal of the STARTALK initiative, now in its 7th year, is to increase the number of Americans speaking critical languages, including Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Portuguese, Urdu, Dari, Hindi, Swahili, Turkish, and Persian.

For more details, see the program’s webpage, or contact program coordinator Mary Thrond, (701) 293-5763.

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