UD-NSLIY Participants Moved into Homestay Families

It was 10 o’clock in the morning on July 20th. It was the time for the NSLI-Y participants to meet their homestay families! They’ll stay the next two weeks in the homestay families and experience authentic Chinese life styles! The homestay families were total strangers to them but they would be their closest “parents” or “siblings” while in China. What would they say to their Chinese families when they first met? The students were excited yet anxious.

Dr. Jianguo Chen, Director of the NSLI-Y program started to call the names of participants and their matching families to come up to the stage and introduced them to each other. After the first meeting, the students would go home with the homestay families.

Homestay families are anxiously waiting to pick up their American children.

Dr. Chen introduced the students to homestay families.

For the NSLI-Y participants, a free afternoon with the homestay families were much valued and well spent. The Chinese parents have prepared lunch for their hosted students and many kinds of activities. The participants enjoyed an afternoon playing ping-pong, practicing calligraphy, going shopping, or going out to local restaurants. They all had fun.

The chaperons of the NSLI-Y program have established a virtual network via WeChat to share information about the participants and their need on time. 30 families can ask questions or share photos easily with the chaperons and among all families. (Photos below are provided by the families).

Hanging out with homestay brothers in the city.


Playing Ping-Pong.

Going out with hometay sister.

Learning calligraphy.

UD-NSLIY Participants attended concert

The NSLIY staff and participants were invited to join a concert of the Xiamen University Faculty and Students Art Troupe in the evening on July 15th. The Concert was held in the Music Hall in the College of Arts. More than 200 people attended the event, including Mrs. Zhiping Hu, Deputy Director of Hanban, Mrs. Xinli Zhan, Vice President of Xiamen University and 40 Directors and Co-Directors of the Confucius Institutes around the world who are currently attending a Confucius Institute Conference on XMU campus.

All performances were wonderful. Performers included artists, faculty and students from the College of Arts of XMU and students from other colleges. This was the first time that the students watched authentic Chinese art performances. They were very impressed by the performances and all commented in Chinese:” I like the show very much!”

Chinese instruments performance “Walking on the Alley”.

Peking Opera with Pipa “The Drunken Beauty”.

Performances from artists and students of XMU.

Group picture with the performers.

UD-NSLIY Dumpling with the Directors

Thirty teenagers who probably have never cooked food before would make Chinese dumplings from scratch and eat them.

This may sound a little bit intimidating to parents but it is what really happened. It was the “Dumpling with the Directors” activity for the UD-NSLIY participants on July 13th.

Classes finished at 5:00pm. All students gathered together at the Dining Hall in Cai Qingjie Building. Staff at the Dining Hall have prepared dumpling doughs and the stuffings to make the dumplings.

To make a dumpling, first, one needs to use a rolling pin to flatten the dough. Second, make dumpling skin using the flatted dough. Third, put the stuffing into the skin and wrap around it. The last step is to boil the dumplings in hot water which will be done at the kitchen.

The most interesting part was, the students were going to eat what they made!

Lead Chaperon Mrs. Wang teaches students how to wrap the skin.

Students are learning how to make dumplings.

The steps sounded challenging but all students were very motivated to make the perfect dumplings for themselves. The dumplings turned out to be in various kinds of shapes but they were all REAL HANDMADE DUMPLINGS!

And most importantly, they tasted very good! Everyone got very excited to have eaten a piece of food that they made for themselves.

My dumplings taste better than anything else in the world!

Sharing the dumplings with Chinese students in the dining hall.

After the dinner, students helped clean up the tables. “They are all good kids”. The teachers and the chef commented.

Cleaning up the mess.

So proud and so happy.

UD-NSLIY Participants Visited Fujian Tulou

On July 12, the NSLIY group left the urbanized city of Xiamen in the early morning. After more than three hours of bus, the group arrived at Nanjing County of southeastern Fujian, where the famous World Heritage site, the Tulous are located.

A tulou is a unique residential architecture in Fujian, China. It is usually a large, enclosed and fortified earth building, most commonly rectangular or circular in configuration, with very thick load-bearing rammed earth walls between three and five stories high and housing up to 80 families. Each Tulou structure resembles a small fortified city.

Among many of the Tulou structures in southern Fujian, the NSLIY group visited the Hegui Lou, located in Nanjing County. It was built more than two hundred years ago in the Qing Dynasty in 1732. It spreads out to occupy 1,547 sq. meters (0.38 acre) of land. It is the tallest rectangular Tulou in Fujian with five storeys and was built on a swamp. After more than 200 years, it is still well preserved. Hegui Lou was inscribed in 2008 by UNESCO with many other Tulou buildings in Fujian as World Heritage Site, as “exceptional examples of a building tradition and function exemplifying a particular type of communal living and defensive organization [in a] harmonious relationship with their environment”. (Wikipedia)

The NSLIY group visited the Hegui Tulou.

The participants are about to enter the Hegui Tulou.

Inside the Tulou.

The group visited the Yun Shui Yao Villiage, named after a romantic movie “The Knot”, a 2006 Chinese film. The movie was filmed in the small village originally named Chang Jiao, later renamed because of the movie. It is a beautiful rural village in the mountains and among creeks. All participants had fun experiencing a beautiful relaxing afternoon in the village.

Yun Shui Yao Village

Yun Shui Yao

Yun Shui Yao village.

Group photo at Yun Shui Yao Village

Farmers from the USA. :)

Photos by Jianjun Huang, Kuangbin Fan.

UD-NSLIY Learning Through Playing

July 11th, 2014. Today the UD-NSLIY participants had another relaxing yet rewarding afternoon.

1:30-2:30 pm. The students learned one form of martial arts – the Long Fist, aka Chang Quan. Now they looked like real martial arts masters!

Learning Chang Quan, a form of martial arts.

2:35-3:30pm. The Interest Group activities today included Chinese origami and various Chinese chesses, such as Chinese War Chess, Hop Chess, the simplified Game of Go (Weiqi) and etc. Students might choose the activities of their interests. Some of the students even made vivid lotus out of regular paper!

Chinese Hop Chess

The Game of Go (Weiqi).

Chinese War Chess

Beautiful lotus flower made out of paper.

3:35-5:00pm. It’s time for the Chinese tutoring. Volunteers from Xiamen University helped the students review their lessons from the classes in the morning and work on their assignments. (In the following day, more students’ home assignments will be posted. I would say, their Chinese is very good!)

Student tutoring session with a Xiamen University volunteer.

5:05-6:00pm. It’s time for the “buddy activities” with another ten students from the Xiamen School of Information Technology. Today they brought two new games. The first one was called “Woodpeckers in Action”. The player puts a straw in his/her mouth and passes a rubber band with the straw to the next player. The group who can pass the most rubber bands within a given time period wins. Today the first place went to group six, the Thunder Duckys: Christine, Hannah, Anna, William and Jessica.

Woodpeckers in Action.

The second game was called “All As One”. A group of players hold their arms in the back and sit on the floor. As the game starts, the group has to support each other to stand up without letting go anyone’s arms. The fastest group wins. Today group two (Si, Rebecca, Olivia, Kevin, Bradley) and group five (Jake, Coly, Helen, Danielle and Karen) won.

All As One.

UD-NSLIY Learning Outside the Classrooms

July 9th. The NSLIY group visited the Museum of Anthropology of Xiamen University in the afternoon. The Museum is well-known for its special collection on Chinese anthropology, archaeology and ethnography and the first museum of its kind in China. The museum is composed of seven exhibition halls and one corridor of steles and holds more than 6,000 cultural relics in its collection.

Visit the Museum of Anthropology on XMU campus.

Visit the Museum of Anthropology on XMU campus.

Visit the Museum of Anthropology on XMU campus.

After the visit to the museum, the participants also had their first community service activity on campus, the Green Drive. They were each equipped with pairs of gloves and plastic bags. In an hour, the NSLIY group helped Xiamen University clean the campus from their dorms to the famous “Lovers’ Valley”. This activity was planned to call for awareness on environmental preservation.

The Green Drive

Students walked through the campus to raise awareness on cleaner environment.

After the hard work,  the participants had pizza for dinner! It was a treat to all the participants after a few days of Chinese food. Pizza was just right at this moment!

Pizza time!

Today the group also celebrated Karen and Emily’s birthdays. They had a simple birthday party for them. The teachers also prepared traditional “birthday noodles” for the girls. In China, the long strip of noodle is a metaphor for the long walk of life.

The Birthday girls!

UD-NSLIY: Peers and Teams

July 7th. It was a fun day.

1:30 to 2:30 pm. For a group of students who have never learned martial arts before, can you imagine that they could master the Combined Exercise for Five Kinds of Steps within less than an hour? Yes, the UD-NSLIY participants did it! They even performed in front of everyone! The teachers were amazed by their progress. The group will keep practicing the steps to prepare for a performance in an upcoming party with Chinese students of their ages from Xiamen.

Students are learning the Combined Exercise for Five Kinds of Steps.

5:00 to 5:30 pm. It’s time for “Buddy Activities”. Nine students from the Xiamen School of Information Technology joined the participants in several games. The first game they played was called “Never Fallen Forests”. A group of players each held one long stick. Upon hearing the instruction of the judge, they had to connect their sticks to another without letting go the previous ones. It is a game to reinforce teamwork spirit. Group two (Si, Rebecca, Olivia, Kevin and Bradley) and group four (Cliff, Emily, Isaac, Haley and Theo) won the games.

NSLIY participants meet with students of their ages from Xiamen School of Information Technology.

The game of Never Fallen Forest.

Another game was “drumming spirit”. Eight players held a drum at the same time with a ball on top of it. Then the group needed to bounce the ball on the drum together. The team who bounced the ball for the longest time would win. Today the winner team is group one (Daniel, Thomas, Carter, Angela and Valeri). They won themselves 3 points on their “Striving to Excellence” competition.

The game of Drumming Spirit.

The game of Drumming Spirit.

After dinner, some students went to a romantic place on the campus of Xiamen University, “Lover’ Valley”, for a walk with Mrs. Wang and Ms. Fu. In a few days there will be some activities planned for the students there. More to come and stay tuned.

A walk at the Lovers’ Valley on campus after sunset.

UD-NSLIY A Typical Day

July 5th. It was the first Saturday after the UD-NSLIY delegation arrived at Xiamen. The students still had a busy schedule on the day with many classes and activities.

A typical day of the NSLIY program starts with an E-portfolio activity with the chaperons in the dining hall after breakfast each day. E-portfolio, aka E-journal project, is to help NSLIY participants fully engage in the learning, comprehension and presentation of Chinese language and culture during this six weeks of program. Students are expected to record what they see, hear, do and the people they meet in China, compare, reflect and then share the information with their peers in either newsletter or presentation formats. The first e-portfolio activity was for ten students of the group one and two led by Head Chaperon Mrs. Wei Wang.

E-portfolio session with Head Chaperon Mrs. Wei Wang after breakfast.

Chinese language instruction follows from 9:00 to 11:50 in the morning after the e-portfolio session.

After lunch, from 1:30 to 2:30 pm, it is lecture on Chinese culture time. Today, Dr. Chen introduced to the students “China in Perspective – History and People”.

Dr. Chen’s lecture on the history of China and its people.

From 2:40 to 3:20, it’s usually Interest Group sessions. Today the students are learning how to paint bamboos and panda with ink and brush.

Everyone’s panda is different.

I am Kelsey’s panda, Lao Wai (i.e. a foreigner). :)

From 3:30 to 5:00pm, it’s the Chinese tutoring sessions. Students are divided into three classes and practice Chinese with six tutors from Xiamen University.

Chinese tutoring session with two language tutors.

This morning, Dr. Chen also held the first meeting with the homestay families. Dr. Chen introduced the NSLIY program to the parents, answers questions and signed contracts with the families. All thirty participants will move into homestay families in two weeks on July 20th.

First meeting with homestay families.

Photo by Jianjun Huang. Photo courtesy of Xiamen University.

UD-NSLIY Participants Celebrated Independence Day in Xiamen

Even though the participants are far away from their home country, the UD-NSLIY delegation still got the chance to take one day off to celebrate the Independence Day in Xiamen, China.

8:40 in the morning. July 4th, 2014. The group left Xiamen Universty for a one-day tour in the famous city on the southeast coast of China.

Their first stop is Huxiyan Rock, located southwest to the Wanshi Botanical Garden.

It was such a nice treat for the group after they hiked their ways down to Hongshan Tunnel at the foot of the hill of Huxiyan Rock. It was part of the Yingxia Railway system that has served the north of Fujian Province to the south for nearly six decades but now is no longer in service. Hongshan Tunnel is renovated into a walking path that connects with nearby residential communities and parks. It was very cool and nice to walk through the tunnel in such a hot and humid day.

A cool hike in the Hongshan Tunnel.

The group visited Hulishan Fortress, on the beach behind XMU, a key national historical and cultural site in Xiamen. The Fortress, built in 1894, showcases Xiamen as an ancient battlefield where its people resisted imperial aggressors and resisting foreign aggressors in its more than 100 years of a gloomy history of rise and fall. The group visited the world’s largest cannon (Guinness 2000), the German-made 280mm Krupp coastal defense gun, installed in 1893.

Group picture in front of the Krupp Cannon at Hulishan Fortress.

Oversee the southeast coast of China from the Fort.

After the Hulishan Fortress, the group arrived at the other side of the city Jimei District, where the famous Jimei Dragon Boat Races have been taking place for a couple thousand years.

Jimei Dragon Boat Pond

Jimei Dragon Boat Pond

Jimei Dragon Boat Pond

The group’s last stop of the day was on the Island Ring Road (Huandao Road). A relaxing walk along the boardwalks along the coastline, with random chats with local students and tourists in Chinese on the beach, just ended the day of July 4th perfectly in Xiamen.

Right by the ocean.

Meeting local people along the Island Ring Road.

The group returned to Xiamen University after a dinner in the city at 7:00 PM.

Photo by Jianjun Huang.

UD-NSLIY Delegation’s First Day in Xiamen University

At 1:00 AM on July 3rd, 2013 (China Time), 30 participants of the National Security Language Initiative for Youth Summer Institute of the Chinese Language and Culture (NSLI-Y China), led by program director, Dr. Jianguo Chen, arrived at Xiamen University, after nearly 30 hours of international travel (including layover in Shanghai), safe and sound.

Participants and chaperons moved into Cai Qingjie Building, a dormitory building for international students located on Xiamen University’s main campus.

UD-NSLIY participants meet with officials, teachers, chaperons and local language partners at Xiamen University on July 3, 2014.

The Opening Ceremony and On-Site-Orientation officially started at 10:00 in the morning in the Conference Room of the College of Humanities at Xiamen University. Xinli Zhan, Vice President of Xiamen University greeted the NSLI-Y delegation with warm welcome to the beautiful campus of Xiamen University. Program Director, Dr. Jianguo Chen introduced the program details to the University officials, participants, chaperons, and local language partners, and thanked Xiamen University for its strong support and partnership to the NSLI-Y program this year. Isaac Ruble, a tenth grader from Colorado, spoke on behalf of all the participants. Mr. Tongwen Mao, Director of the Southern Base of Confucius Institute Headquarters and Office of Confucius Institute Affairs; along with Senior Administrators of the College of Humanities, including Dean Binhua Wang, Dean Ning Zhou, Xiaohong Li, Xiqi Lu, attended the opening event and welcomed the participants as well.

Program Director, Dr. Jianguo Chen addresses to the group during the opening ceremony.

Vice President Xinli Zhan welcomes the participants to Xiamen University.

Isaac Ruble speaks on behalf of the participants.

In the afternoon, the participants were split into three classes to meet with their Chinese teachers from 1:30 to 2:30. Students introduced themselves in Chinese. The language instruction part of the NSLI-Y program will be conducted in an immersion way in the following six weeks.

Intermediate I class meets their Chinese teacher Mrs. Shaorong Lin, a Chinese teacher and visiting scholar from the Confucius Institute at the University of Delaware.

Every afternoon from 2:30 to 3:30 is time for the Interest Group activities. Over 20 volunteers from the College of Humanities and Students Organizations of Xiamen University showcased all the cultural categories that the participants will be learning, experiencing and improving in the next month. Some of the categories include Chinese tea culture, calligraphy, Chinese painting, martial arts, Gu Qin (a traditional instrument), Chinese flute, traditional costumes, paper cutting and so on.  It was an eye-opening experience for the participants to watch performances from the talented volunteers from Xiamen University. ‍

A demonstration on Chinese costumes.

A lecture on Chinese tea culture.

Chinese flute performance.

Cai Qingjie Building, located on Xiamen University’s main campus, is where the participants will be staying for the next two weeks.

The way to class from Cai Qingjie Building on campus.

First group dinner on campus in the dining hall in Cai Qingjie Building.