Keeping up with the pace of life in the bustling and vibrant city of Nanchong brings regular reminders that time for rest is important. The class schedule is demanding and there is so much to see and experience outside of class.
On Monday afternoon we learned about changes in the education system in China since reforms established by Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s. The vastness of the student population and thus great need for teachers and education infrastructure was conveyed effectively. We also learned about more recent reforms, including for the Gaokao (Higher Education Entrance Exam), the high-stakes exam taken by high school seniors. As SSTers anticipate teaching English in middle-schools for the second half of the semester, this context about education was very helpful.
Wednesday afternoon’s lecture was a dynamic analysis of cultural differences between China and the West. Our presenter outlined historic influences and offered numerous compelling examples to support the idea that a group orientation, rather than a focus on the individual, dominates the cultural landscape of China.
Also on Wednesday, Goshen students met in small conversation groups with Chinese university students. This was a welcome opportunity to interact with peers who are also learning on this campus, and hope this is the beginning of some ongoing friendships.
The remainder of this week brings second sessions in calligraphy and dance, as well as our first group excursion. We will visit Làngzhōng (阆中), one of China’s four ancient cities, this Saturday and Sunday. It’s warm and sunny this week ahead of more September rains expected soon.