Sunday, May 2, 2010
SITE DESCRIPTION – CHINA (Tianjin, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong)
Using the tools of spoken English, American popular culture, and service learning in China: Tianjin, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong
The focus of this trip/proposal will be to demonstrate the role of arts and cultural exchange in deepening cross-cultural understanding and relationships, facilitating conversational English using art as a medium encouraging exchange. As GIEU participants, we will learn about Chinese life, society, arts and culture through live performances, interactions with residents, students in middle school, high school and undergraduate programs, teaching conversational English, involvement in service learning and historical field trips. We will witness, experience and discuss China’s challenging transformation into a global superpower of the 21st century. We will use informal education pedagogy as a medium for providing opportunities for Chinese youth to learn conversational English from native English speakers (and provide a mechanism for improving basic Mandarin language capacity of GIEU students). This exchange will inform us, University of Michigan students, about Chinese social and political history, arts and culture while allowing us to use applied learning to use creative teaching, sharing and storytelling strategies. At the same time, our project will benefit Chinese community, residents and students schools, while strengthening the connection between the University of Michigan and Tianjin Normal University.
Thirteen of my fellow undergraduate University of Michigan students and I will be directly involved in this project with Larry M. Gant and GIEU student fellow Caryn Kong, with whom we have spent the past months since January preparing and organizing. Over the one month period, we plan to interact with approximately 500 Chinese youth, community residents, and several Chinese teachers, officials and youth workers. This project extends the work and good will established between the instructor, Dr. Louis Yen and the staff, administration and faculty of Tianjin Normal University.
While some/most Chinese students know English, nearly all of them learned English from a non-native English instructor. (Contrary to what might be believed, very few Chinese interact with native English speakers) Thus, Chinese students understand and can read English, but the pronunciation is often poor. The opportunity to speak with native young English speakers enhances and improves pronunciation. I am involved with two other students creating the dance curriculum as a medium to encourage conversational English. Why is movement important? Why do we dance? What is the root cause?
There are three basic ways to move the body: locomotor, nonlocomotor and manipulative
Locomotor: moving the entire body from one place to another. Examples include running, walking, jumping, crawling, sliding, climbing, so on and so forth…
Nonlocomotor/stability skills: moving in place as the axis of the body rotates around a fixed point. Examples include spinning, twirling, stretching, twisting, bending, stooping
Manipulative: moving small or large muscles groups or a combination of the two. Examples include dancing, bouncing, throwing and catching a ball
Large motor actions can be paired with music. Creative movement help assist with expending physical energy enabling nonverbal communication to express emotion and creativity. I will teach the basic swing/jive and Cha Cha, while sparking conversation among participants. We will play dance charades, where each team tries to guess what their player is dancing/doing in order to guess the song title they chose. We also want to use Zumba to get warmed up and then have a discussion to practice English skills about the importance of body movement and how it impacts health. I hope to involve students by Dancing out a scene, aka interpretive dance, while another team sings the lyrics to instrumental music. One of my fellow curriculum developers wants to send the students home with homework to research cultural dances. Then the next day, reenact them or discuss why they chose the particular dance/move, or what makes the dance/move unique, etc. Our “Anything Goes” day will involve Using English as a medium to work in groups to create an elaborate performance for everyone to enjoy, as a pseudo China’s Got Talent or So You Think You Can Dance or _____’s Best Dance Crew.
In return, the students help us, English speaking students, to better understand Mandarin. We will invite our Chinese students colleagues to attend a variety of sites and venues in China that are known but almost never visited (due to relatively high costs) by native Chinese residents, including Olympic village, Chinese operas, tea houses, and wonderful restaurants. This is a once in a life-time experience and I know what I gain from this trip will be applicable to my life-long goals and is one more tool in helping me shape my wordly views. There is no one purpose of education, but within my own goals is creating habits of mind and maintaining a constant critical engagement with the world on local and global scales. One of my life objectives is to gain the tools and skills necessary to communicate well and effectively with anyone I come into contact with, to serve and to advocate for ideas I deem necessary or worthy of advocacy.
My blog will begin tomorrow and I will be transcribing my journal notes onto here when I get a chance.
After 29 hours of travel I am safe and sound inside my room (roommate Sunny) at Tianjin Normal University (their Golden Bridge Hotel).
The posting times are local times here in China, not USA. I am 12 hours ahead of you :p I skipped an entire day while flying.
Signing out :)