UWA Campus School partners with International Programs

Published 8:32 pm Tuesday, November 1, 2011

LIVINGSTON – The University of West Alabama’s Campus School has partnered with the institution’s International Programs to offer its elementary students a glimpse into Chinese culture. With the children’s first lesson under their belt, administrators are excited by the possibilities the program offers.

On the second Tuesday of each month, a group of international students from China visits Campus School for cultural lessons that range from counting and speaking to learning colors and names in a different language. Essentially, children ages 3 to 5 are learning very early basic conversational phrases and the numbers that they’re currently learning in English.

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Locally, the group has been hosted at the home of Lucy and Dr. Ronnie Chu, of Demopolis.

“We outlined a program that would be challenging and rewarding for both students and volunteers. Our plans are to demonstrate different cultural activities such as counting, learning names in a different language and colors. We also hope to incorporate a meal that will demonstrate the culture of our Chinese cohort as well,” said Luckie MvonoToung, a graduate assistant for International Programs.

With a few lessons under their belts, students at Campus School have shown consistent enthusiasm and retention from the cultural lessons. According to their teachers, the young students are quite interested in their different cultures.

“My students have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and are always eager to listen and learn something new. They want to know how things work and why they are different in other places,” said Campus School Teacher Kim Smith.

Not surprisingly, students show continued interest once their lessons are complete. Campus School lessons often include the exploration of other countries and cultures through globe and map activities. To reinforce the new language the students are learning, additional activities include opportunities to converse in Chinese.

“We’re beginning to see students drawing relationships between the English words for their numbers and objects and the Chinese translation. For example, they enjoy counting in both English and Chinese now,” explained Campus School Teacher Brooke Miller. The young students’ new abilities are put into practice, teachers say, even in their playtime. “We’ve really enjoyed watching as the students begin to talk to one another in Chinese,” she said.

Campus School teachers have been delighted to see camaraderie between their young students and the Chinese students teaching cultural lessons. The enthusiasm and eagerness to learn, they say, is evident among the children and college students.

The Chinese students, who came to UWA from Guangdong University of Finance, are not participating in the program because of ties to majors in education—their majors are in business—but because of their expressed interest in sharing their culture and contributing to the young children’s education.

“I believe because the Chinese culture puts such great emphasis on learning and education that it is such a natural part of their lives. They are eager to teach young students how to do new activities and how to speak a new language,” Smith said.

In addition to sharing the Chinese culture with students who had little exposure to it previously, the international students also working to assist Campus School teachers with sharing the American culture with their young international students.

“We have two four-year-old Chinese students at Campus School. We feel very blessed to have the help of the International Program to assist us with interpreting for them,” said Campus School Director Annie Upchurch. “Some of our international students have plans to join us on a regular basis to work with the students.”