Letters from China: Administrators Visit, Talent Show, and Wrapping Up

Lola150Twenty-eight faculty, staff, and students have taken Big Orange Country to China through an English immersion summer camp—and the UT community can follow their adventures over the next two weeks. Team member Lola Alapo, public relations specialist in the Office of Communications and Marketing, is sending back reports about the group’s work and adventures.

China day 13
10:30 p.m. Thursday, July 7

Today I had my students create menus for their own fictional restaurants. When marking the papers tonight, I was tickled to see that they had paid attention to my lectures. Several Tennessee foods showed up on their menus including hot chicken and peanut butter moon pie. (The gal who included the moon pie on her menu had won it in the raffle Wednesday. Glad to see she liked it.)

A contingent of UT administrators arrived today at Southeast University for meetings and to sign a memorandum of agreement to continue the summer immersion camp partnership for another few years. They included Provost Susan Martin; Pia Wood, associate provost and director of the UT Center for International Education; Masood Parang, associate dean in engineering; and Shih-Lung Shaw, professor of geography and director of the UT Confucius Institute.

Lola1

UT teachers met with them for lunch before we resumed afternoon lessons. Pia Wood met with UT undergraduate and graduate students to hear their experiences and get their feedback about the camp.

For the afternoon, I gave my students time to practice for the camp-wide talent show. This also allowed me to catch up on my grading.

Lola-2

Students in Elise Fles’s class show off their t-shirt designs.

Elise Fles, a graduate student in the UT Department of Psychology and one of the camp teachers, has been teaching her students this week about the history of fashion in the US. She had the brilliant idea to have her students design their own t-shirts. This afternoon, Elise’s students did a mini-catwalk in each classroom to show off their creations.

Tonight, I finished all my grading and entered all the scores. It’s hard to believe tomorrow is the last day of camp.

China day 14
9:45 a.m. Friday, July 8

Today is it. Noooooo! I mean, yessssss! I mean noooooo! Such mixed feelings.

We shortened the day to give students a last chance to practice for the talent show. But before I dismissed them, I asked them to write anonymous feedback about the camp/my class: what they liked, what they didn’t like, and what we could do differently next year. I made the mistake of reading some of the feedback while in class and I started to tear up. A few had suggestions for changes next year. But they overwhelmingly talked about how much they enjoyed camp; how they came to camp shy but were leaving feeling more confident in their English speaking and presentation abilities; and how much they enjoyed me, Rain, and Myrna. The feeling is definitely mutual. It’s hard to believe I’m leaving. We all exchanged contact info and I hope we stay in touch.

At lunch I paid one last visit to my cafeteria lady to see if I could snag a goodbye photo and/or a hug. No dice in both departments. (And no extra unopened Coca-Cola bottles.) I did receive another warm smile and I purchased a cup of cold plum tea. Maybe next time.

Lola-3

Students from my Class Ten present their talent show. Jinkson showcases some Michael Jackson moves.

This afternoon, following several speeches to officially close out the 2016 immersion summer camp, students from all ten classes presented their group talent show. We had singing, dancing, and funny skits. My students (go, Class Ten!!) presented a combination of hip-hop, line dancing, stepping, and beat-boxing. We also had an ode to Michael Jackson as one of my students showcased some of his moves.

One of my students Jay takes one last photo with me, Rain and Myrna after the talent show.

One of my students Jay takes one last photo with me, Rain and Myrna after the talent show.

After many hugs and photos, UT crew and Chinese students called it a wrap.