Group gets closer look at Chinese lifestyle

by Sonja J. Keith

Arkansas students – including three from Conway – had a unique opportunity to travel to China to learn about the language and culture.

The trip was sponsored by the Confucius Institute through the University of Central Arkansas for high school students studying Mandarin Chinese. Students attended an intensive language school for two weeks and enjoyed a little sightseeing as well.

Almost 600 students from throughout the United States attended – each with at least one year of studying the Chinese language. Ten Arkansas students participated in the trip, including Conway students Selene Spatz, Sara Denning and Blake Farris. Christine Seefeld, an English teacher at Conway High School-West, served as a chaperone.

The trip was designed to promote greater understanding and awareness about the Chinese culture.

The students attended 30 hours of classes over 12 days at the Bo’Ai International School at Xi’an in the Shaaxi Province. Classes focused on language as well as cultural topics like Tai Chi, paper folding and calligraphy.

“The students enjoyed practicing the language they were learning in school,” Seefeld said.

The group toured an exhibit of Terra Cotta Warriors and attended aspecial horticulture festival held in the region. The students also traveled to Beijing, where they had an opportunity to tour the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.

Seefeld said those on the trip acquired a better understanding of the Chinese lifestyle as well as an appreciation for their own culture.

“It was a really neat trip,” she said. “It was such a good experience not just for me but for the students who were with me.”