KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A group of 10 local high school students will travel to China in July with the Confucius Institute at Western Michigan University for a language and culture summer camp.
The students and their Confucius Institute instructors will depart Monday, July 24, for a 12-day camp that includes visits to Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, China. Participating are Kalamazoo Central and Loy Norrix high school students who have spent at least two semesters learning Mandarin. Mandarin courses are taught in these two Kalamazoo high schools by instructors from China whose appointments are facilitated by the Confucius Institute at WMU.
Summer camp participants will not only receive two weeks of Chinese language and cultural training, but also have ample opportunities to apply what they learn in the classroom.
"Local students may have learned some Chinese in class, but they don't have the environment to use it in the local community," says Wenfang Sun, associate director of the Confucius Institute at WMU. "And, they may have some knowledge about Chinese culture, but they don't have the opportunity to experience it."
Affordable China experience
The students who are participating in the China camp are responsible only for airfare, visas and medical insurance. All in-country expenses are covered by the Hanban, the headquarters for all Confucius Institutes across the world.
Kristen Allen, the mother of one China-bound student, reports that the decision to sign up her daughter for the summer camp was not a difficult one.
"The generous scholarship made it very affordable," she says. "I would love to see the Great Wall and visit China in my lifetime. It has not happened for me yet, but [I'm] so happy to support my daughter in doing so with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
This will be the first time that the Confucius Institute takes students to China, although the institute offers language and culture summer camps each year on the University's main campus. The model for the camp program was adapted from the Hanban and is specifically designed for high school students.
"This experience will open a window and give them more choice in their future study and life," Sun says.
The Confucius Institute at WMU
A nonprofit organization, the Confucius Institute at WMU is designed to bring an authentic Chinese perspective to WMU and the Kalamazoo area. It was established in 2009 through a partnership with Beijing Language and Culture University, and is the fourth such institution in Michigan and the 61st founded in the U.S.
This on-campus institute is supported with funding from the Hanban that is matched by WMU. In addition, Beijing Language and Culture University annually provides teachers who are trained in teaching Chinese as a foreign language and conducting cultural courses.
To learn more about the institute, visit wmuconfucius.org.
For more WMU news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.