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College of Arts & Sciences
Confucius Institute

Confucius Institute at USC held 2017 Student Winter Camp to China

From December 28th, 2017 to January 11th, 2018, the Student Winter Camp Tour organized by Confucius Institute at USC successfully finished their tour in China. Twenty Undergraduates of the University of South Carolina spent 15 days in Beijing and Shanghai, enjoying Chinese culture and experiencing the beauty of another country. The two-week long trip in China gave them deep memories and great impressions about China and its splendid culture. The students were also able to make friends in China and all thought the Winter Camp was worth their time.

The Winter Camp is organized with the joint efforts of Confucius Institute at USC; USC Study Abroad Office; and Beijing Language and Culture University. As organizer and host, Confucius Institute at USC and BLCU designed complex, effective and executable schedules for the participants. The schedule, initially based on the hopes and expectations of the students, were closely packed with classes, cultural activities, and tours of places of interest. The students looked forward to the trip and hoped for a good chance to learn more about China -- a chance they will certainly get.

The students began each morning with a Chinese language class. The teachers of BLCU are experts at teaching Chinese, and with their help and guidance, even the students who had never learned Chinese before were able to master the essential words and phrases in a short period of time. Doubtlessly this made the trip in China more colorful and pleasant. In no time, the campers were able to perform all sorts of daily activities in Beijing using the fundamental Chinese skills they were taught, such as shopping, hailing a taxi, asking for directions, ordering in a restaurant, and holding parties. It should not go unmentioned the campers where especially proud when they sang Chinese songs for a birthday party and the New Year feast.

The students also dedicated their time outside the classrooms and lecture halls to good use. They experienced all sorts of cultural activities. They learned about paper cutting, kicking the Jian'zi, facial mask painting and other features of traditional Chinese culture. Chinese Calligraphy was especially popular to the students. They used the paper and writing utensils the teachers provided to practice Chinese style calligraphy and painting for themselves. Even though time was limited, and the students soon had to turn to other tasks, the appreciation of beauty and art is the same in every human being. The students were able to produce Chinese style artwork without problems, and the successful cultural activities left them with high spirits and improved self-esteem. Classes teaching Tai Chi and Kungfu were the most popular for the students, and in excitement they learned many styles of traditional Chinese martial arts, such as Wuqinxi and Baduanjin. When these classes ended, the students were reluctant to disperse, however, they soon found pleasant surprises in their schedules. As the New Year closed, they experienced how to make dumplings by themselves. Although the dumplings were a little out of shape, their happiness was by no means reduced when they got to eat their own hand-made dumplings.

During the trip, the students toured through many landmarks in Beijing and Shanghai, many of which are historical sites that displays different aspects of Chinese culture. While in Beijing, the campers visited the Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace, the Temple of Heaven, and the Summer Palace. These magnificent wonders of the past left them amazed with the creativity of the ancient Chinese. Shanghai, however, gave them impressions completely different from Beijing. The Museum of Shanghai that records the city's development and the Museum of the Silk Road which preserved precious artifacts made their trip in Shanghai quite fruitful, and many students started to understand why China has developed so rapidly in the past several decades, and how Chinese culture is able to spread and thrive across the world. After their visit to an ancient Chinese town, Zhujiajiao (Literally Zhu's corner), the students reached an agreement that the Chinese way of developing while preserving old traditions can produce many beneficial effects.

During the two weeks of the tour the campers cooperated, relied on each other
for support and in the end formed a group with the spirit of adventurers. As they explored China, they were both amazed by the grandeur of the two cities and surprised by their pace of development. They also noticed the improving English skills and friendly attitudes of the cities' dwellers. Many students thought the experiences of this trip worth sharing with families, friends and colleagues. In short, this winter camp helped them widen their worldview, understand more about China, improve their cross-culture communication abilities, and enriched their life experience. All these benefits will help them become successful and productive people the world needs in the future.

During the closing Ceremony of the Winter Camp, the students gave complete, detailed reports about their studies on the Chinese language, culture, society, values and lifestyles. All the campers gave speeches alongside PowerPoint and Video texts. Some of them expressed deep, thorough ideas on what they appreciate and learned from Chinese culture. A student named Wilfredo Anderson was truly enthusiastic over their trip, and quoted a sentence from Nelson Mandela -- "

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
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If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." He has set his mind to learning more about China, projecting a little goal of fully learning Chinese and winning a scholarship by Confucius Institute so he can go back to China and continue to experience the beauty of Chinese culture.
By the end of the trip, all students were able to acquire valuable memories while they experienced Chinese culture in a total immersion environment. They now had greater understanding of the many aspects of Chinese culture. They Gradually came to realize that although the two nations have different values, the dreams of their people have much in common. It is always thought the best way for one to understand China is to be immersed in the Chinese culture environment, in which way one can study Chinese culture with first-hand experience. The students, with their own eyes and ears, discovered the beauty of Chinese culture and the spark of civilization that led it to grow until today. Somehow, they did not think it a foreign, strange country anymore. It is more like a second home, for all the values they appreciate were in fact appreciated by all human beings, and Chinese culture contains much of the essence of a civilization.