CALEXICO – The Confucius Institute began its annual Chinese Culture and Language Summer Camp Thursday morning at San Diego State University, Imperial Valley campus. People of all ages joined in to learn more in depth about the Chinese traditions, language, dance and music.
The two week program incorporates the Chinese language as students study and practice simple conversations in Mandarin, learn the basics of Kung-Fu, make traditional Chinese bracelets, calligraphy, participate in mask painting activities, and learn Chinese music and dance. The summer camp is free to all residents of Imperial Valley and it especially encourages junior high and high school students to attend the program.
With the sole purpose to connect, the Confucius Institute has a partnership with San Diego State University to promote educational and cultural cooperation between China and the United States and develop a large scale of knowledge of Chinese culture in the outside areas of San Diego and Baja California, according to the Confucius Institute web page.
As attendees were welcomed to the colorful class full of traditional Chinese decorations, students watched videos of past participants who shared testimonies about their experience in the summer camp.
Blair Ren, a teacher at SDSU-IV as well as a part of the Confucius Institute and a native from Shān Dōng province of East China, shared a bit of her own heritage with the class. Ren also emphasized that as the two week camp starts, the importance of constant practice in speaking Mandarin and having one-on-one interactions with each other as a family is key in the process of learning the language.
“Even if everyone has different concepts and traditions from their culture, this program is for the community to be together and have fun,” said Ren.
“As the camp is for a short period of time, the students will get to know each other and have a more clear knowledge to introduce themselves and have a conversation in Mandarin. And many students from my classes joined in this year’s summer camp. It’s very exciting,” Ren added.
To kick off the program, the students were placed into two groups denoting specific animals that represent a significant belief in the Chinese culture. At the end of the camp, each group will perform a traditional dance routine.
Watching the lessons attentively, participants had the opportunity to learn Chinese Pin Yin as they practiced different pronunciations of letters and syllables and learned how to say certain nouns like “father”, “mother” or “sibling” in Chinese.
“This is my second time attending the Chinese summer camp and I came here with my son,” said one attendee. “I hope that after this camp, I’ll be able to speak Mandarin and become more familiar with the Chinese culture.”