Friday, September 23, 2011

Sharing Culture at Champlain College

Crystal Shen at Champlain College
Visiting Scholar Guohua "Crystal" Shen visited Champlain College to discuss Chinese culture, answer questions about common Chinese medicine, and answer questions . What follows is her reflection of the experience.

The last day of summer in Vermont, my presentation day in Champlain College!
Bill Williams, Director of ASOP, drove me to Champlain College at 2:30pm. The college is near UVM on a hill. It's not a big college but neat and nice at first sight. We arrived early so that we had enough time to walk around the college and took some pictures on campus.
We waited in the classroom 100 of Wick Hall for some time before Susyn came. She is an elegant lady with beautiful smiles. I gave her paper sunflower as a gift. There is a computer and a big screen in the classroom. The PowerPoints I have made are really wonderful on the big screen.
I started my presentation with my Chinese name and a quiz about China. The senior college students were active in answering my questions.  Those who got the correct answers to my quiz questions would be awarded with a paper-cut flower as a prize. Fascinated by the great variety of paper-cut flowers, these college students looked like kids, excited at receiving their prizes. In fact, they got all answers to my eight questions, and some answers were really beyond my expectation. It's a good start, I think, to create a lively atmosphere.
During the presentation, I found the college students concentrating on my lectures, with no chatting at all. Some students even raised questions, which is typical of American culture. When it came to chopsticks, many of them wanted to try picking up things with chopsticks. When I taught them some Chinese words, they would follow me. 
"When I mentioned something different between Chinese culture and American culture, they would nod or express their surprise on their faces."
As medical students, their main interest is Chinese medicine, especially traditional Chinese medicine. When I referred to such things as herbal medicine, acupuncture, cupping and Gua Sha, some students had more knowledge than I expected. There were some students that interrupted with questions, but those were not tricky questions, and luckily I could manage them.
Time passed quickly before I realized it. Actually I didn't finish all my parts of my presentation. At the end of the presentation, they gave me warm applause and expressed thanks in Chinese. Susyn gave me a leather wallet marked with Champlain College in return. It's a pity I forgot to take any picture with her, let alone a video for my presentation.

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