University of Delaware
Gov. Jack Markell visits a Chinese immersion summer camp organized by the Confucius Institute at UD.

Chinese immersion

Confucius Institute brings Chinese immersion summer camps to local schools


8:33 a.m., Aug. 14, 2014--In collaboration with the Caesar Rodney and Christina school districts, the Confucius Institute at the University of Delaware (CIUD) organized and implemented two one-week Chinese immersion summer camps.

The camps reached nearly 200 kindergarten and first grade students at the McIlvaine Early Childhood Center in Magnolia, Delaware, and Downes Elementary School in Newark from July 22-30.

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Both camps aimed at building a language and culture connection for the graduating kindergartners in the Chinese Immersion Program and preparing incoming kindergartners.

Since fall 2012, the CIUD has had a partnership with Caesar Rodney’s McIlvaine center to support the first Chinese immersion program developed as a part of Gov. Jack Markell's World Language Expansion Initiative.

In close partnership with the center, the CIUD has developed and implemented a wide array of Chinese language and monthly culture activities, including the first Chinese immersion summer camp, Camp Ni Hao, in July 2013.

The successful partnership with McIlvaine led to the CIUD’s collaborative initiatives in Chinese immersion programs with other schools in the district, including Allen Frear and W.B. Simpson elementary schools. Chinese teachers from the CIUD visit classes, meet with immersion program teachers and school administrators, and provide instructional assistance and culture tips. The CIUD also helps enrich the language learning experience with culture performances at various occasions. 

In February, the CIUD received the “Spirit of Caesar Rodney Volunteer Award” from the school board for its collaboration and support to its Chinese immersion programs in the district. 

Beginning in fall 2013, the CIUD partnered with Downes Elementary School to support its Chinese immersion program in kindergarten classes. The CIUD coordinated two sessions of eight-week afternoon school Chinese programs to the students at Downes in two semesters, benefiting nearly 100 students. On a monthly basis, Chinese Culture Night events are held for the students and their families. 

Since January, the CIUD has provided four teaching assistants. The teaching assistants are all UD students who majored in education, linguistics, Chinese studies, as well as Asian studies. This collaboration is mutually beneficial as it also provides opportunities for faculty and staff from the CIUD and UD students to get involved in community outreach activities and gain hands-on experience in the Chinese immersion program.

During the 2014 Governor’s School for Excellence, the CIUD hosted an event called Chinese Culture Wanted. This year, 131 students participated in the event, which featured musical and dance performances, calligraphy lessons, food and tea samples, games and martial arts. 

“I think it is important for kids to get to see the differences and similarities of cultures, and what they experience in different parts of the world,” Jason Thompson, program coordinator of the Governor’s School for Excellence. “When they participate in these types of cultural activities, they realize that if they can do it then maybe it is not that different after all.” 

This is not the first time the CIUD has held a cultural event during the Governor’s School. In fact, its events are consistently ranked among the students’ favorite programs. 

In the spirit of community service, the CIUD strives for excellence in serving as a cross-cultural agency between the University and communities, a representative of the program said.

Article by Elizabeth Adams

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