August 14, 2012
The 2012 Summer Session Chinese Language Program brought 33 students to Beijing for a Mandarin immersion experience. In its second year at the Center and fifth year overall, the Graham School program combined morning classes taught by Youqin Wang and Fangpei Cai with afternoon small-group sessions and drills led by local instructors. Building upon the Chinese they had studied previously in Hyde Park, the students were able to practice their language skills by exploring Beijing alongside their teachers.
Professors Wang and Cai led students to major tourist sites as part of the summer’s introduction to Chinese culture. The group visited Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City; the Great Wall; Beijing's pearl, silk, and antiques markets; and the Lama Temple, Tanzhe Temple, and Temple of Heaven. Professor Wang led the students on the summer program’s second annual trip to the Rural Women’s School, which trains girls from disadvantaged areas in key skills; UChicago participants met administrators and talked with local students.
At the Center, program students heard several speeches by local professors and attended calligraphy workshops. The students attended an alumni-student reception along with UChicago summer interns in Beijing, where alumni spoke about postgraduate academic and career paths in China and chatted with students. The group also enjoyed bonding with their local language drill instructors, sampling Chinese cuisine, and independently exploring Beijing sites like the Summer Palace, Coal Hill, Olympic Park, and the city's traditional hutongs. The students marked the end of the quarter by singing, reciting jokes and poetry, and sharing pictures at a talent show. The students and instructors also continued a tradition of producing a Chinese-language souvenir yearbook full of reflections, photos, and stories from the eight-week program.