Center in Beijing Celebrates Culmination of 2017 Summer Chinese Language Program

  • Summer Chinese Language Program students' visiting of the Forbidden City

  • Summer Chinese Language Program students' visiting of the Beihai Park

  • Justin at the Tiananmen Square

  • Summer Chinese Language Program teachers and students

  • Birthday party at the UChicago Center in Beijing

August 6, 2017

On August 4th, the UChicago Center in Beijing celebrated the culmination of another successful year of the Chicago in Beijing Summer Chinese Language Program. This marks the seventh consecutive year that the Summer Chinese Language program has taken place at the Center in Beijing.

This year, 20 students from both UChicago and other universities arrived in Beijing in mid-June. Students stayed in the International Students Dormitory of Renmin University. The eight-week program consisted of five hours a day of classes from Monday through Friday. The program was led by UChicago senior lecturers Youqin Wang and Fangpei Cai, and additional teaching support was provided by four local graduate students specializing in Chinese as a second language instruction. The program was divided into three classes (Intermediate Modern Chinese, Advanced Modern Chinese, and Fourth-Year Modern Chinese) whose curricula aligned with the same sequences offered by UChicago during the normal academic year. In the final week of the program, four UChicago students participated in the Beijing Area Chinese Language Speech competition, alongside participants from the Harvard-Beijing Academy, Princeton in Beijing Program, and the Columbia in Beijing Program.

"The classroom experience at [Chicago in Beijing] was incredible," said rising second-year student Justin Skobe. "While it was a lot of work, I could feel my Chinese getting better every day."

Outside of the classroom, students engaged in weekend excursions led by Cai Laoshi. The excursions covered many of Beijing's most famous cultural and historical sites, including the Forbidden City, Great Well, Summer Palace, and Temple of Heaven. Students supplemented these excursions to the cultural and historical landmarks of Beijing with their own, independently-organized trips to Beijing's modern districts. Students frequented the areas of Sanlitun and Wudaokou, popular shopping and entertainment destinations for both foreigners and Beijing natives alike. Additionally, students took advantage of Beijing's vast culinary offerings. Popular eats included authentic Peking Duck and Wangfujing Street's fried scorpions.

Students also partook in extracurricular offerings around Renmin University's campus. Every Friday night, local Chinese anglophones organized an "English Hour" in the quad, which provided an opportunity for students to engage in cultural exchange and language practice with local speakers. Students who sought out local language partners could always be found in coffee shops around campus conversing with local Chinese students.

"One of my favorite moments of the entire program was when my language partner, Coco, told me that my Chinese had really improved," said rising second-year Brian Kaufman. "It was really cool and unique experience to develop a special relationship with someone from another country while simultaneously improving my language ability." 


--Justin Yannix (University of Chicago '20)

Click HERE to find more Justin's thought about his summer opportunity.