As mentioned in last week’s Immersed, The New Century School takes advantage of the 2-week holiday many Chinese have in the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year by hosting special programs and inviting various groups to TNCS. For the Year of the Pig, first came a group of six university students, eager to take home innovative education ideas, followed by the topic of this week’s post, four students and their parents.
In the English–Mandarin Classroom
The purpose behind this second visit was some cultural exchange—immersion in an English-speaking classroom for the Chinese students for 2 weeks, and a chance for TNCS students to practice conversation skills in Mandarin with their visiting friends Lucy, Tiger, Tiffany, and Meg. All students took full advantage of this rich opportunity to increase their language proficiency.
The outgoing and adaptable quartet meshed immediately with their new schoolmates. Lucy and Tiger were welcomed into Mrs. Sharma’s 4th- and 5th-grade homeroom, Meg joined Mrs. Biancaniello‘s 2nd- and 3rd-grade class, and Tiffany joined Ms. Shaffer‘s K/1st-grade classroom.
As you’ll readily see in these videos, the model of native-speaking peers teaching learners of a language really works.
Their parents, Meghan (Meg’s mom), Yang (Lucy’s mom), and Zhuo and DeKai (Tiffany and Tiger’s mom and dad) toured TNCS and were often on campus, visited various sites around Baltimore, including a tea date at Teavolve, and made satellite trips to Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.
Field Trip to the Maryland Science Center
It must be said that having the visitors in class for 2 weeks meant that TNCS students got a bit of a holiday as well. In addition to making balloon animals and doing other fun activities that helped cement relationships and increased the number of opportunities for relaxed (and therefore authentic) communication, they got to go on an extra field trip during that time to the Maryland Science Center!
They started on the top floor and made their way down, in general, getting their science on! They visited all of the interactive exhibits with placards in English and in Spanish, including the Bed of Nails—a huge hit, even with the teachers!
Next, they got to do a cycle of experiments in the Science Lab: DNA Extraction, Polymer Properties, and Mystery Mixture.
Visiting Friends’ Homes
One big part of any cultural exchange is the experience of what family life is like in the host culture. On one occasion, Lucy and Meg and their mothers spent part of an afternoon with the Horvaths. Over a leisurely luncheon, lots of fascinating conversation took place—even a little vocabulary game of naming Chinese zodiac characters in Mandarin. Lunch was catered by Orient Express, the best Chinese restaurant in Baltimore and conveniently owned by a TNCS parent!
After lunch, all four children disappeared upstairs to play games.
It was a wonderful afternoon—a great time was had by all!
Although this post cannot possibly cover all the amazing experiences that our group of TNCS and Chinese students shared together, the closing ceremony that marked the end of the visit is a must-see. (And, don’t worry, All of the fun had on Chinese New Year will be the topic of next week’s Immersed, coinciding with the final day of the 2-week Lunar New Year celebration.)
TNCS Co-Founder/Co-Executive Director Roberta Faux started things off with a lovely speech.
From there, TNCS students took the stage to pay tribute to their new friends.
Next, it was the guests’ turn to take the stage.
Megan’s tribute speech sums up their visit, including what a wonderful experience it was, how grateful they are to have had it, how she believes that the immersion experience is profoundly valuable and effective . . . and how badly her daughter Meg did not want to leave! Most importantly, she expressed how happy the children were during the whole visit and how excited to come to school every day. There’s no better compliment!
After Lucy, Tiger, Tiffany, and Meg were presented with Certificates of Participation and TNCS tee shirts, Señora Duncan closed the ceremony with another lovely speech. Guests then mingled, had some snacks, and gave goodbye hugs.
Farewell, Dear Friends
TNCS students were sad to see them go, but plans are in the works for keeping in touch with Lucy, Tiger, Tiffany, and Meg, who will always be remembered by TNCS!
(Psst! We also have the very good fortune of welcoming a second group of Chinese students starting February 11th, which an upcoming Immersed will detail, so stay tuned!)
Update 2/15/19: Meghan (Meg’s mom) also wrote a blog about the experience that you can read here. Although it is in Chinese, anyone can appreciate how beautiful it is, and the positive feedback is very evident!