Warsaw Community High School Chinese language students discuss fun games Americans like to play with students from Shengli Primary School, Hangzhou, China. Shengli is a sister school to Harrison Elementary School. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
Warsaw Community High School Chinese language students discuss fun games Americans like to play with students from Shengli Primary School, Hangzhou, China. Shengli is a sister school to Harrison Elementary School. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
Warsaw Community High School Chinese language students had a chance to practice their skills Friday with the visit of students from Harrison Elementary’s Hangzhou sister school.
“This is a big opportunity,” said Dr. Shu-Chun Tseng, Chinese teacher for Warsaw Community Schools. “They get a chance to speak to native speakers, experience their culture and use their Chinese language, and they get an opportunity to make mistakes, too. It’s good to make mistakes to know how to correct them later.”
She said her students know the vocabulary, but speaking with the native Chinese speakers will be a good reminder.
Twenty-four students and three staff members from Shengli Primary School visited Warsaw Wednesday night through today. Shengli is in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. They came to the U.S. about a week ago, visiting the East Coast first. The students visited with Harrison Thursday and most of Friday, staying with host families both nights. Today they will travel to Chicago, where they will stay a day or two before flying back to China, according to Harrison Principal Lee Snider.
Tseng said her class and the Shengli students initially met in groups and introduced themselves to each other. Their conversation was allowed to include Chinese, English and body language because each student was at a different level with their language skills. They then had lunch together from the school cafeteria, which included pizza.
After lunch, the high school students introduced the Chinese fifth- and sixth-graders to American games like “Duck, Duck, Goose” and “Four Square.” The WCHS students had to find ways to communicate the rules, which wasn’t always easy.
Snider said the WCHS and Shengli students interacting “really comes back to our mission statement and finding opportunities to enrich their lives while they’re here. It’s building relationships between the students and they’re studying a language. It’s just a really unique opportunity and it’s exciting that Harrison got to be a part of it.”
Freshman Andrew Owens is in Tseng’s Chinese II class.
“It is different and I think it’s really cool that we get to do this,” Owens said.
It was tough at times communicating with them, being in just the second level of Chinese, but he said body language helped.
“It’s very new,” junior and Chinese IV student Patrick Mosher said. “I never had such avid contact with someone who is very fluid (in Chinese). I find it hard because I don’t really practice Chinese at home.”
“It’s been amazing,” Chinese IV junior Mary McGrath said. “The only native speakers I’ve talked to is the teacher and a few kids in my grade.”
She said she learned that “it’s OK to have a language barrier. You can still communicate.”
Sophomore and Chinese II student Morgan Kohler said the experience was a little difficult because she doesn’t know a lot of Chinese.
“But it’s been a fun learning experience because I want to go to China one day,” Kohler said.
The experience was “very exciting” to junior Braden Sommers in Chinese II.
“It’s an original experience not a lot of people get to have. It’s pretty intimidating because of the amount of Chinese they know versus how much we know. Mostly it’s been easy to figure out. It’s been bits and pieces and context clues and trying to figure out (what they’re saying),” Sommers said.
Before the Chinese students left, Tseng’s class presented each one with a T-shirt and a wooden keychain. The WCHS Athletic Department provided the T-shirts.
Mosher bought the wood to make the 30 keychains and used a laser to print on them. On the front of the keychain is a “W” for Warsaw and on the back, the Chinese for “friend.”