Journey to the Great Wall

North Central College is taking high school students on a “Journey to the Great Wall of China.”

As part of the federally funded program STARTALK students are getting a summer course in Chinese, but it’s more than just sitting in a classroom.

Chinese dancing, karate, and calligraphy, in STARTALK, not only are students learning the Chinese language, they are being immersed in the culture.

“Students in the morning have a language instruction. In the afternoon we try to incorporate cultural activities, students love the calligraphy the most,” said Jinai Sun, Visiting Assistant Professor of Chinese, North Central College.

Twenty-four students from all across the Chicagoland area are currently in the inaugural program at North Central, which can be used for three college credits.

“We wanted to have students who never thought about taking Chinese and use it to promote their interest. However, when we started to recruit, we realized most of the students have strong interests and have already started taking Chinese,” said Sun.

The majority of the kids have taken Chinese in school and wanted to use the program to further their skills.

“It’s full of a lot of kids who are actually interested in the language. They’re not there to just get a class done and graduate. They’re there because the want to be there and so we actually have the chance to apply themselves and learn a bit more,” said Victoria Young, a sophomore at Glenbard West High School.

“I heard about it through my teacher. She said it would be good to study over the summer and just retouch some of my skills and my pronunciation would be more clean,” said Anthony Waight, a sophomore at Streamwood High School.

Students got an opportunity to take what they’ve learned so far and put it into use.

“We took students to the Chinese community center to talk to the seniors. They’re very patient, they want to refine the students’ tones, ‘It should be like this,’” said Sun.

Many students in the program are taking the skills they learn while in STARTALK and putting them towards their future careers.

“I want to major in international business so I thought it would be great,” said Waight.

“I’m going to be a pilot. It would be fun to do a lot of world travel so traveling to China would be fun, especially if I could fly there,” said Young.

North Central College is hoping to get the grant again to do the program next year, and possibly expand it into a two level program, allowing high schoolers to get even more experience.

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