Learning and teaching in Shanghai

Jillian '14

We started the day early today and didn’t stop until after dinner, we took part in a number of activities which were all new experiences for most of us. The first thing on our list was to introduce ourselves to the 1,500 students at EFZ in Chinese; originally it was supposed to be outside where the school usually gathers each morning but luckily for us it had been raining so we didn’t have to get up there in front of everyone. Instead we were featured on the schools TV program which wasn’t quite as scary to me because there weren’t 1500 fluent Chinese students staring at me, just a camera in case I messed up. 

Our first class of the day was painting; we learned the different styles and techniques of traditional Chinese painting and got to try it out for ourselves. We painted flowers and bamboo as best we could for our first time at it. 

The next class was Kung Fu which we were all really excited for. We learned basic moves which were still really hard, and practiced using nunchucks. Each of us got pretty good by the end of the lesson and had a great time with it. 

After class we had lunch and went to a migrant school in Shanghai. The students here don’t live in great places and their parents are often too busy with work to care for them, so the school’s main focus is to give these students a good education and hopefully create a better life for them. At the school we met the kids and played with them for a little while. We also went on a tour of the school and it was amazing to see how engaged the students were. We even saw a class of at most second graders all learning to play the violin. We split into groups and organized games to play with some of the classes and gave out prizes to the children. At the end we handed out backpacks and school supplies, which Amy Qian who organized the trip bought, for about 100 children. It was amazing how happy they were to receive these gifts and just meet with us in general, even at such a young age these children are starting to change their future. 

After the school we went to meet an internationally known professional calligrapher who showed us some of his work and demonstrated for us. His art was beautiful and he told us the history of Chinese art compared to Western art and the key elements of it. Our work from the morning was nowhere near his paintings and we all loved seeing a professional at work right before us. Although the day was nonstop I really enjoyed every part of it and look can’t wait for the rest of the trip.