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From Beijing to Brooklyn: pupils interact

Updated: Feb 5, 2018 China Daily Print
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The study of the Chinese language is popular among students in Brooklyn, New York, and they recently got to expand that learning by meeting some of their contemporaries from Beijing.

More than 100 elementary and junior high school students from both countries gathered at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Friday. They sang traditional Chinese songs and worked together on calligraphy, paper-cutting and clay sculptures as a way to promote Chinese culture and cultural exchange.

"I taught one of the American students how to use the Chinese calligraphy brush pen and how to write the Chinese character fu, which means fortune and luck in English," said Bai Jiayue, a 13-year-old student from Beijing Elementary School.

Bai was one of 19 pupils from elementary schools in Beijing, including Chaoyang Elementary School and Beijing Elementary School, who traveled to the US for the program.

From Beijing to Brooklyn: pupils interact

While the Beijing students taught their American counterparts traditional Chinese culture, students from the Medgar Evers College Preparatory School in Brooklyn welcomed them by singing Jasmine Flower in Chinese. It is one of the most famous Chinese folk songs and is included in Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot.

"I think the event is actually much more fun than I expected," said Elisha Amadasu, 13. "I came here with other eighth graders, and we all think this is amazing because we actually learned lots of thing we could not learn from our Chinese class."

Amadasu said most of her classmates are like her - they started to study Chinese in the sixth grade.

"There are about 500 students who are learning Chinese in our school," said Ye Baoguo, Amadasu's Chinese-language teacher. "Some of them started to learn from the sixth grade and will continue till the 11th or even 12th grade."

Ye said he has been teaching Chinese at Medgar Evers Prep for about 15 years.

"More and more American parents are willing to let their kids learn Chinese because they know it will give them more opportunities in the future," Ye added.

From Beijing to Brooklyn: pupils interact

"I think learning Chinese is a good opportunity and you will be able to get more jobs because you have more communication skills," said Nicole Shirley, another student in Ye's Chinese class.

"We're very glad to be invited by the Brooklyn borough president to join this program," said Jean Adilifu, assistant principal at Medgar Evers Prep. "It's the first time for them to communicate directly with so many students from China, and it was a cultural exchange aspect for our students who are studying a foreign language. It's like an immersing experience; it makes their language-learning more real."

"Brooklyn has become an important platform of China-US social and cultural exchanges," said Eric Adams, Brooklyn borough president. "Brooklyn has established sisterly cities with Chaoyang District of Beijing, Shanghai's Putuo District, Fuzhou's Culou District and Yiwu city."

"This morning, the visiting students had an interactive session with students in Brooklyn," Adams said. "They learn from each other; this is exactly the kind of cultural and educational exchange we should have more."

"New York City, especially Brooklyn, is a melting pot of cultures around the world," said Li Liyan, cultural counselor at the Chinese Consulate General in New York. "It's important that people of all cultures, especially our children, take advantage of that and learn from each other."

The exchange program is a part of the Exhibition of Outstanding Traditional Chinese Cultural Designs and the 24 Solar Terms Logo Designs. It was organized by Beijing Design Week, the China Millennium Monument Art Museum, the United Nations Tai Chi Club and the Asian American Cultural & Economic Development Society.

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