Chinese no great wall to students: Immersion classes popular
Junior high students listen carefully and repeat the Chinese words Michael Volz pronounces. "Ni hen ke ai," the 38 students respond in chorus. "That's the important part," Volz said. "That says 'you are cute.' " The students had already practiced...
Junior high students listen carefully and repeat the Chinese words Michael Volz pronounces.
"Ni hen ke ai," the 38 students respond in chorus.
"That's the important part," Volz said. "That says 'you are cute.' "
The students had already practiced their Chinese names. Volz tells them to meet five people and write down their names and hometowns, without using English.
"If it gets very frustrating then you can cry, that's OK," he joked.
The University Lutheran Center at North Dakota State fills with fumbled attempts at the tonal language as the 38 students exchange greetings.
They are taking part in a two-day Chinese immersion program held in conjunction with the Global Mission Event, a national Evangelical Lutheran Church in America gathering in Fargo this weekend.
Concordia Language Villages has coordinated the Global Mission Event's junior high program since 2000, including many elements of the language villages held in Bemidji, Minn., but incorporating a faith dimension, said Rob Quanbeck, assistant director for abroad programs for Concordia Language Villages.
"To be aware of global missions and to be an active contributor to global missions you need to have some awareness of global languages," Quanbeck said.
"The focus is taking the integration of faith, language and culture. There is no disconnect," he said.
Volz is pursuing a master's degree in East Asian studies at Stanford University. He has volunteered for the ELCA, and has led the program at the language village.
"When we go to another culture, we need to demonstrate that type of spirit Christ had, humbled, not as a conqueror," Volz said.
The program also introduces the youth to religions in China, including Christianity.
They learn about the country's geography, music and food as well.
Rangle Cha, a volunteer with Chinese Christian Ministry in Fargo, warmed tiny black ceramic cups by dipping them in hot water, and filled each with oolong tea. He passed them to students on ceramic trays.
Dawn Eichelberger of Muscatine, Iowa, held the cup between her thumb and forefinger and carefully sipped the hot tea.
"That's good, thank you," Eichelberger told Cha.
"I really don't enjoy tea very much, but that tea wasn't as strong as I usually have it so it was nice," she said.
Rebecca Wolf of Brandon, S.D., attended the Global Mission Event with her parents, who are both pastors. Last year, the junior high village focused on Peru.
"I learned a few words, which by now I've forgotten," she said.
She had already developed a way to enunciate the Chinese phrases.
"I think of it kind of like you're singing something," she said. "Like when you say 'hello' to someone, it's like you're singing it."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5525