By Josh Wiedemeier
Today was the third day of the UD NSLI-Y program (including PDO of June 29-30), but was the first day of being on campus at Xiamen university. The day began with about half of us waking up at around five in the morning due to some combination of jet lag and excitement! Those of us that were up waited in the lobby area for the dorm’s market to open and for breakfast at the university’s cafeteria. We were excitedly waiting for the Program Opening Ceremony to be hosted by Xiamen University administration, faculty and students. We look forward to starting our UDNSLIY summer institute.
Before heading off to breakfast, we checked out the coffee shop that’s right next to the dorm’s market; it has a pool table, two small lofts, and most importantly, the owners’ baby (he’s so cute). We went to breakfast at the university’s cafeteria, which was served buffet style and had a plentiful selection of dishes. One that was recommended by Dr. Chen was a traditional breakfast bread called 油条 (you tiao), which is a long fluffy piece of bread, and was quite delicious. The first things everyone noticed about outside was the heat/humidity one two punch. The second thing everyone noticed was the deafening roar of cicadas. Needless to say, we were happy to be ushered into the building where the program opening ceremony would take place , at which we would also have our on-site orientation.
Professor Xiaohong Li, Deputy Dean of College of Humanities, Xiamen University, opened the welcome ceremony. Professor Zhu Qing, Dean of the College, delivered a warm-welcome and inspiring speech, which emphasizes the importance of “people-to-people diplomacy” that aims to promote understanding and friendship between the peoples of China and the US. He extended Xiamen’s big welcome to all of us and offered best wishes for a productive, enriching and fun program. We then watched a short video about Xiamen University which highlighted its position as a leading international university. Dr. Chen, our director, introduced our program to the Xiamen host, faculty and staff and thanked Xiamen for its unfailing support for the program over the years. On behalf of all the UDNSLIY students, Maeve Slife, expressed our thanks and promised that we will commit ourselves to the program objective, make hard efforts to live up to the program expectations and function as young ambassadors of the United States. Present at the ceremony were Mr. Binghua Wang, Council Chairman of the College of Humanities, Professor Li Wuwei, chairperson of the Department of Chinese Language and Culture in the college as well as other administrators, program teachers and chaperons, and a group of student volunteers.
We were then gifted ocarinas, as well as an instructional book on how to play them by the University. Then began class introductions for the interest groups. There were martial arts classes, multiple forms of dance, both ethnic and classical, a handicrafts class, and a calligraphy class. We chose which interest group class we wanted to participate in, then headed out to lunch. There was a varied selection of foods, my favorite among them being a vibrant dish called 麻婆豆腐 (ma po dou fu), which is a colorful and spicy tofu dish. After lunch came the Chinese class. I participated in the intermediate level class, in which we did introductions, were presented with the syllabus for the class, and went over parts of the placement test we had taken during the pre-departure orientation in Newark. After the Chinese language class came the interest group classes. I participate in the ethnic dance class, which ended up being a lot of fun; the shoulder and arm movements were very difficult because I am not gifted in the area of bodily coordination, but there was catchy music and everyone had a good time. Then we went to the tutor session, in which we reviewed what learned previously and practiced Chinese with, a few students/tutors currently studying at Xiamen University as Majors in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language. The session ended, and we were guided to a shop on campus where we got the sim cards for the emergency cell phones that were issued to us by the NSLI-Y program. It took almost two hours, which is understandable given that we have 24 kids, but it made several of us, myself included, a bit late to dinner. Dinner was in a similar style to breakfast and lunch, but with a new selection of food.
Indeed, today was a lot of fun. Our program is well organized and we are well taken care, for which Dr. Chen, our program director, has now been officially nicknamed by popular vote to be called poppa Chen.
Professor Zhu Qing, Dean of College of Humanities, Xiamen University, was delivering a welcome speech.
Photo with Professor Zhu Qing, Dean of College of Humanities and Professor Li Wuwei, Chairperson of the Department of Chinese Language and Literature at Xiamen University.
On behalf of all UDNSLIY students, Maeve Slife, thanked Xiamen for its hospitality.