Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Californian's month of Chinese, Literature, Cuisine and Early Childhood Education

A 17-year old young lady from California has impressed me with her writing style from the time she submitted her educational biography right up to this monthly report for March 2010. The report must be one full page, single-spaced, and it must focus on the learning that took place during the month. I'm including hers in its entirety to give an example of an outstanding and captivating essay.

"My March calendar was loaded with so many countless events that I thought it might burst.  Being incredibly busy, it wasn’t until now when I stopped to think that I realized just how much I learned this past month:  so much more than I imagined!

In world news and events I studied the mistreatment of women.  I learned more about the terrible domestic abuse and human rights violations against many women in the Middle East as well as of the horrors of the Thai sex trade.  Such atrocities are horrendous and I will continue trying to find ways to help.  I also educated myself further in Chinese current events and culture.

The amount of Chinese I’ve managed to learn in only a few months thoroughly amazes me.  It seems as though each week I become progressively faster at learning Mandarin!  So, during March I especially improved my Mandarin skills.  Last month I had the wonderful privilege of meeting my friend’s aunt visiting with her non-English-speaking husband and two little children from Shanghai, China.  Listening to the family engage in Mandarin and being able to understand snippets and even chunks of their conversations was utterly thrilling!  I was especially excited to find that I could understand quite a lot of what the children were saying.  Although I was too scared to venture speaking a little Chinese to the adults, I managed to work up the courage to partake in limited Chinese banter with the five-year-old girl, Anna.   She was so shocked and excited to hear me speaking her language that she decided to practice a bit of English with me!  It was absolutely adorable.  She even brought me one of her beautiful drawings for me to write my American name and Chinese name - 楚睿恩 (Chǔ Ruì ēn) – on.  Anna was quite happy discovering that part of my name睿 (ruì) was also part of her Chinese name.  Since January I have acquired and – to my great delight - retained the knowledge to read and write over 160 Chinese characters, over a third of which I learned in March.   I utilized these skills as I handwrote essays and dialogues in Chinese characters for exams.

Learning so many Chinese characters also helped me with not only reading and writing Japanese kanji, but also in understanding the origins of many Japanese words.  Though Japanese and Chinese sound very different, the more I study Chinese, the more I come to realize the many seemingly subtle similarities between the two languages.

Whether I sing in Chinese, Japanese, or English, the emotion of my voice consistently grows deeper in expression, and its clarity rings stronger and stronger.  During March I constantly sang in front of class, learning to sing various styles of music.  Performing  in an encouraging environment has helped me better learn to manifest nerves in a such a way that is not destructive to one’s health or performance and to build more courage to sing in front of audiences.  I’ve experienced development of my singing technique and the quality of my voice, both of which continue to improve.

What has also grown stronger this past month is my ability to write stories full of vibrant detail, and intrigue.   Reading well-written, engaging literature created a cycle as the reading improved my writing and the writing improved my reading.

I’ve also improved in quickness and efficiency of cooking dis,hes and meals, and have improved in making them appear even more appetizingly beautiful.  With ease, I now can quickly de-scale and debone a salmon before using a new, pretty wrapping-style to wrap my mushroom wontons.  To my amazement, such a wrapping-style holds the wontons together quite nicely.  With sugary or fattening foods I’ve unveiled more tricks to make the treats healthier while deceptively delicious.  These tricks are especially handy when I cook for the children I babysit.

One new chapter in my continuing saga of Early Childhood Education involved  a great deal of hands-on experience, as for several days I cared for a flu-stricken toddler spewing his half-digested breakfast all over his dinosaur pajamas as well and anything else that happened to be around him.  Using a very stubborn 8-year-old boy as my guinea-pig, I also found ways to discipline effectively without resorting to punishment.

I feel accomplished and satisfied with how hard I worked to learn in March and will strive to do the same during the remaining weeks of April."

1 comment:

  1. I must say, this is a phenomenal essay! The feeling and expression was conveyed beautifully! I am quite impressed....