UD NSLIY Participant Wrote about Her Homestay Experience

By Anna Rempe

July 26, 2015

After a week in homestay, I have become accustomed to my family’s routine. When I joined this program, I assumed that I would only have one sibling, but I soon discovered that I had been lucky enough to join a family that had two adorable (evidence below) girls! The eldest has a lot of patience with my inability to understand her a good portion of the time. My host parents have been unbelievably kind. I am sure feeding a vegetarian has not been the most convenient for them, but they have excelled at preparing dishes.

At first, awkward lulls in conversation occurred frequently: I did not know what to say or what to ask – even if I could use English. However, conversation has become less awkward, excluding the times when I cannot understand what they say, and we have had many interesting discussions. They told me of their interest in moving to California and asked many questions about America and American schools. Although I certainly spoke in choppy sentences with horrendous grammar, they understood my meaning. This has forced me to think of creative ways to explain what I do not understand which has undoubtedly improved my Charade skills. On the way to school, I often ask my dad how to say something I see. After saying the Chinese word, he asks me how to say it in English. Together we have improved our vocabulary.

While I frequently talked to my parents and older sister, the younger sister took a while to warm up to me. Although she frequently talked with her sister, she rarely spoke directly to me. However, one day while beginning my homework in my bedroom, my youngest sister peeked around the corner into my room. She hesitated outside, until I told her to come sit on my bed. She seemed upset, but would not explain why. I asked her if she wanted to hear some of the Chinese story I had to read for homework. After a while, she still seemed upset, so I asked her if she wished to draw. A few stars in she returned to her cheerful self and proceeded to introduce me to her many stuffed animals – one featured in the picture above. Later, she showed me a card she had received for her birthday. I think we bonded over our ability to read the characters for happy birthday, and inability to read the rest of the card.

Although I learned in the most uncomfortable way the meaning of 蚊子 wen2 zi (mosquito), I truly wish I could stay in this home longer.

UD NSLIY Participants Moved into Host Families

Homestay is an important component of the UD NSLIY Summer Institute. The two-week homestay (July 20-August 6) helps students experience the everyday life of ordinary Chinese people on first-hand basis. Located within a 10-20 minutes distance from Xiamen University, the host families were carefully selected and screened. The cross-cultural experience features, among others, “at-home Chinese tutoring”, interactive cultural activities, “cultural chats”, “a bite of Chinese food culture”, “meeting with people in the neighborhood”, etc. “It’s indeed an excellent activity,” student Samara Schuman was quoted as saying.

UD NSLIY Highlights: Warriors of Lion Dance

Lion Dance is a traditional folk dance in Chinese culture. Often performed on holidays, it adds festivity and joyfulness to cultural events. In partnership with Lion Dance Club of Xiamen University, on July 24 UD NSLIY organized a special workshop for the students to learn how to dance. Curious yet enthusiastic about this important aspect of Chinese folk performing arts, all the students fully engaged in the one-hour workshop, learning how to jump gracefully and keep a rhythmic movement. Difficult though Lion Dance is, our students proved to be quick learners and were able to perform some basic dance patterns, winning applaud from the audience.


By Zhengya

July 19,2015

After two and a half weeks of residing only a five minute walk from the picturesque seaside, today we were able to visit one of Xiamen’s renowned beaches. After a morning of testing in our Intermediate 2 class and the Chinese culture/history class in the afternoon, we headed out on a bus for a short drive to one of the best local beaches.  Students were able to enjoy the view, walk along the shore, and joyfully play games such as volleyball and soccer. There were tons of people scattered all over the beach and it was nice to see everyone enjoying their day in the water despite the overcast weather. We everyone truly had a lot of fun on the beach! Even once it began to rain and we had to leave, we were able to enjoy local shops and restaurants across the street from Xiamen University as we had our last night out as a group before moving in with our home stay families tomorrow. After dinner, we came back to the dorms to pack all our things and prepare to meet and move in with our host families tomorrow afternoon. Everyone is very excited to spend the next two weeks immersed in Chinese culture with their new families and practice their Chinese and we all look forward to the new experience.

Wu Laoshi was teaching us in Intermediate 2 Mandarin Class.

Students playing soccer on the beach

I got it!

I am a Kungfu Master!

UD NSLI-Y highlights of July 12-17

To help the UD NSLI-Y students understand Chinese culture in its complexity and diversity, on July 12 we organized a cultural excursion to the city of Quanzhou, the starting point of the ancient maritime Silk Road. Located about one hour away from Xiamen, the ancient town of Quanzhou, whose history dates back to the Song (960-1279) and Yuan dynasties (1271-1368), is where the renowned ancient maritime Silk Road started.  In the early days, because of all the trade that was taking place in this region, many different cultures (Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam) were meshed together and contributed to the cultural diversity of the area. Students visited the famous Maritime Museum and were impressed by its rich collection of artifacts of different cultures. “This was especially interesting to me,” Anna Williams said, “as even though America houses so many people of so many different backgrounds, I would rarely be able to find this fascinating mingling of religions.”

UD NSLI-Y visiting the renowned Maritime Museum in Quanzhou

the Maritime Museum in Quanzhou

“Doing community service feels great.”

On July 14 UD NSLI-Y students helped the Xiamen University campus organize its student bike parking: picking up the bicycles that had fallen over everywhere. Since it is commonplace for Chinese college students to travel to and from class on bicycles and since there are so many bicycles, which park extremely close together, they often get knocked over like a trail of dominos knocking each other over one by one. The fallen bicycles have caused a lot of inconvenience to passengers on campus. Anthony Abinanti was quoted as saying “Doing community service feels great. Since we have been the foreigners who have bombarded the Xiamen campus with our bright blue shirts, it is nice to show the locals how great of a group of students we are.”

Caroline and Stefan were picking up the fallen bikes on campus.

Samara, Isaac, and Adrien were picking up the fallen bikes on campus.

“Doing community service feels great.”

A Visit to Quanzhou,the starting point of the ancient silk road in southern China

By Anna Williams

July 13, 2015

While the typical name for America is the “melting pot” of the world, NSLI-Y students today were able to witness a very unique melting pot of cultures right here in China—in Quanzhou.  Quanzhou was one of the major harbor cities of the Song (960-1279) and Yuan dynasties (1271-1368) and the starting point of the silk road.  Because of all the trade that was taking place in this region, so many different aspects of culture were meshed together and contributed to the cultural diversity of the area.  NSLI-Y’s first stop today was the Maritime Museum which we learned was 海洋博物馆 in Chinese.

Students at the entrance of the Maritime Museum in Quanzhou

Gabe and Scott viewing the model of an ancient ship

The museum showed Christian stone cuttings such as tombstones that not only had the typical Christian symbol of a cross, but also of a lotus flower, a Buddhist design, and other Daoist and Islamic symbols.  This was especially interesting to me as even though America houses so many people of so many different backgrounds, I would rarely be able to find this fascinating mingling of religions.  We also learned while in the museum that in ancient times, China contributed greatly to the field of shipbuilding and at one point possessed the greatest variety of boats in the entire world.  Quanzhou was the perfect place to turn back time and witness the marvels of nautical achievements that were made so long ago.  NSLI-Y students definitely felt as if they were a part of this enchanting time in China’s culture.

Stefan and Matt posing with Ibn Battuta

Anthony Abinanti – NSLI-Y Journal Entry of July 14

By Anthony Abinanti

“Wait, you actually have snow shovels hanging in your garage?” said David, my Hawaiian roommate. Last night before we went to bed, David and I were talking about our daily lives back in the United States. It turns out that his daily life in Honolulu, HI differs greatly from that of my daily routine in Pittsburgh, PA. Just as I had no idea what “poke” was (a traditional Hawaiian dish of raw fish), I guess it is justified that David did not know what a “salt truck” was. It seems that the NSLI-Y program really does bring cultures together.

Today we had our second full Chinese immersion day! Immersion days require all students to only speak Chinese for the entire day. If a student is caught speaking English by one of the teachers or chaperones, then the corresponding team that that person is associated with loses points. Even though it can be rather difficult and frustrating to speak in only Chinese for an entire day, it has been proven that full immersion of a language is the prime path to learning a foreign language.

Beyond the fact that today was an immersion day, we had a relatively routine morning and afternoon. We all began our days with language classes followed by lunch. Next we continued to Dr. Chen’s Culture class and then to our interest groups. Today was our second day in our new interest group rotation. For this week, I am studying calligraphy!

Studying Chinese Calligraphy

I was really excited to start calligraphy, but to be completely honest I am horrible at it. To be good at Chinese calligraphy, one must possess a great deal of patience and focus. At 3:30 in the afternoon after hours of classroom instruction, my focus and patience are nearly gone and as a result, my calligraphy is illegible. After our interest groups, we had tutoring sessions with college students at Xiamen University.

After our tutoring sessions, the NSLI-Y group as a whole completed our second “Green-Drive” community service project. For today’s project, we went around Xiamen University’s campus and helped pick up bicycles that had fallen over. This may seem like a fairly odd type of service work, but since it is commonplace for Chinese college students to travel to and from class on bicycles, bikes can be seen parked on every corner! Since there are so many bicycles, they are parked extremely close together and often get knocked over. Like a trail of dominos knocking each other over one by one, the bicycles do the same. Doing community service feels great. Since we have been the foreigners who have bombarded the Xiamen campus with our bright blue shirts, it is nice to show the locals how great of a group of students we are.

“Green-Drive” community service project 2: picking up bicycles that had fallen over.


UD-NSLI-Y Highlights (the week of July 6-10, 2015)

A visit to Xiamen Foreign Languages High School

On July 9 the UD NSLI-Y students were invited to visit Xiamen Foreign Languages High School in Xiamen, China for a friendship Get-Together. They were warmly welcomed by the headmaster, the principle, and the students of this prestigious school in the area. A rich variety of cross-cultural activities were held including discussions on the importance of studying foreign languages, similarities and differences between US-China high school educational systems, and interactive buddies activities. The joyful gathering culminated in a joint performance at which students on both sides sang Chinese and American folk songs, danced Macarena and Cha-Cha, playing martial arts, giving piano solos, as well as a friendship basketball game.

Happy Get-together at Xiamen Foreign Languages School in Xiamen, China

Student Adrien Inman singing a Chinese song with his Chinese buddy

Let’s dance.

Program chaperon Kezhen Yang giving a Chinese folk dance demo

Friendship basketball game with students at Xiamen Foreign Languages School

“Green Drive” at Xiamen University in Xiamen, China

To help raise awareness for environmental protection, the NSLI-Y students organized a “Green Drive”, one of the three planned community service activities on the campus of Xiamen University on July 10. The students, in five groups, cleaned up the central campus around the beautiful Hibiscus Lake. The “Green Drive” was highly appraised by the campus community and became the focus of local attention.

Student Anna Williams was cleaning up the amphitheater by Hibicus Lake.

Student Isaac McCurdy was cleaning up a path around Hibicus Lake.

Student Stephan Pophristic was cleaning up a path around the lake.

“Green Drive” by the UD NSLI-Y students on Xiamen campus


By Samara Shuman

When I think of Chinese students, I think of hard-working, dedicated, and talented young people. After visiting the high school today, it is safe to say this statement is true, yet there is so much more.

Xiamen Foreign Languages High School is a school the size of an American town’s college, was so welcoming to all of us NSLI-Y students. From the beautiful Confucius statue greeting us and the local students lining up to say hello, we all immediately felt excited to be their guests. After a teacher’s translated speech, we had the opportunity to each introduce our home states, showing that we truly represent the U.S. as a whole. The Chinese students also went around and introduced themselves, along with the names of schools they have been accepted into, majors, club involvements, and grades. We were thoroughly impressed with all the talent in the room, ranging from students who were moving on to renowned colleges tovstudy Norsh (Norwegian), physics and other majors, to being “masters” of debate andvmodel UN clubs.

After the introduction, we had the opportunity to mingle with the students andvmeet our new “buddies”. I met Rachel, her preferred English name, and as we touredvaround together I got the chance to learn about Chinese high school and lifestyle.Due to the fact that Chinese students begin studying English when they are six years old, it is quite fair to say their English is far beyond our Chinese, or at least mine. Today I learned it is hard to practice Chinese with someone who wants to practice their English, and we ended up succumbing to demolishing the language barrier. As we walked around the campus, I learned the students have eight classes a day (each for forty minutes). They stay up until 12:30 am and awake at 7 every morning, and share one dorm between six students.

We ended the tour in the auditorium, where groups from NSLI-Y and the local students prepared some performances. Being apart of Group 5 (the best group), we started off the show. Originally I was to play my composition on the piano while my group members interpreted danced, but the dancing part didn’t end up happening. Oh, but don’t worry, we made sure that there would be plenty of dancing. I taught my group “The Wobble”, a well known dance that I learned from my brother, to go along with “The Cha-Cha” and “Macarena”, which the other groups chose as songs to dance to. It was a blast to get the whole student body to join, American and Chinese, to drop down some funky moves.

Official Opening of UD-NSLIY held in Xiamen University (XMU), China

On July 3,the official opening of the 2015 UD-NSLIY Summer Institute of the Chinese Language and Culture was held at Xiamen University (XMU), China. The ceremony was attended by the University’s senior administrators including Madam Zhan Xinli, Vice President of XMU; Mr. Mao Tongwen, Director of the Southern Base of Confucius Institute (CI) Headquarters and the Office of CI Affairs of XMU; Mr. Wang Binhua, Chairman of the College of Humanities Council; Prof. Li Xiaohong, Deputy Dean of College of Humanities; Dr. Jianguo Chen, UD-NSLIY Program Director and  Dr. Zhongmin Du, UD-NSLIY Program Co-Director from the University of Delaware.

College Council Chairman Wang who chaired the opening ceremony first extended a hearty welcome to the students who have travelled from afar.  VP Zhan delivered a welcome speech (in English). On behalf of University President Zhu Chongshi, she warmly welcomed the “Young American Ambassadors” and emphasized the important roles they could play in promoting US-China relations. VP Zhan pledged XMU’s full support for the UD-NSLIY program and wished the program a great success. Program director Dr. Chen introduced the background of the program and thanked Xiamen University for its generous hospitality. On behalf of the entire group, the NSLIY student representative Miss Leah Taylor gave thank-you remarks to Xiamen University and expressed deep appreciation for this great opportunity to get to know China first hand. After a publicity video of XMU, the students each greeted their Chinese teachers,  Chaperons and buddies, who in turn presented the students with gifts. The opening ceremony and the on-site orientation ended with group photo and ice-breaking sessions between the students and their Chinese buddies.

VP Zhan of XMU welcomed the UD-NSLIY students.

College Council Chairman Wang chaired the opening ceremony

In the afternoon following the opening ceremony, NSLIY students were treated to a stunning talent show put together by their Chinese buddies, including Peking opera, Chinese folk dances, paper-cutting, calligraphy, martial arts, riddles, and Chinese folk music instruments. The purpose of the show is to give the students a taste of Chinese culture and a better idea of what to pick for their interest group activity.

the opening ceremony of the 2015 UD NSLIY at Xiamen University, China

student representative Miss Leah Taylor giving thank-you remarks

student representative Isaac McCurdy greeting Chinese buddies

The afternoon’s excitement culminated during the Scavenger Hunt on campus, when students were divided into 5 groups and had to look for 6 venues that would be most relevant to their life and study during the six-week summer program at Xiamen University. Despite the heat of the summer, students were all enthusiastic and enjoyed the hunt tremendously.

XMU has been the host university for the UD-NSLIY since 2014. University President Zhu Chongshi has attached great importance to this prestigious NSLIY summer program. Last year he personally met with the NSLY students and invited them as his personal guests to visit XMU’s new Xiangan campus where the students were privileged to use its newly opened Olympic-style swimming pool. The 6-week summer program at XMU will embrace intensive Chinese language classes, lectures by Dr. Chen and other experts on China, visits to sites of historical and cultural interests, and a taste of Chinese culture through interest group activities.

Group photo in front of College of Humanities at Xiamen University