April 5, 2023

Teaching in China: One Perspective


Asian Media Access had the opportunity to visit and get to know nine students visiting from Hunan China and three teachers. AMA youth sat down with the students to find out about the youths lives in China and the students got to learn a little bit about being a teen in America. Despite some language barriers, everyone was able to communicate with each other.

I had a chance to sit down with Liu Chang (Angel) who is an English teacher at the High School. This is the group’s first trip to America. They are part of an Educational Exchange, visiting their sister school, Eden Prairie High School. Their school in Hunan is ranked number one in the province and is very competitive.

The teachers and students work very hard with a day that begins at 7:30 every morning and they have classes until noon, when they go home for lunch. The students return to school at 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 pm, when they go home for dinner. But their day does not end there.

The students return to school at 7:30 p.m. for “study time” until 10:00 p.m. in the evening. It is hard to image American students keeping such long hours.

When asked about her thoughts of Eden Prairie High School, Ms. Chang thought the school was beautiful with lots of computers. She said that many Chinese students would like to come to America to study because they would not have to work so hard.  Study is difficult in China with an emphasis on math, physics and chemistry.

Students in the U.S. are much more physically active than in China. The students in Chine get one half hour after class each day for sports or other physical activity.

Mr. Cai Xiang Rong, the Vice Principal of the school and physics teacher also visited with us. There are approximately 5,000 students in their school and 300 teachers.  I asked him if it was difficult to manage such as large school. He said the students are very diligent.

They do not have discipline problems or problems with drugs or gangs. To go to their school, the students must pass an entrance examination, so they get some of the best students in their school.

Talking to Yannyi

I was still at work, but then I was pulled out to interview a Chinese High School student in the next room. I felt comfortable interviewing him.

His name is Tim, but his Chinese name, his real name, was Yannyi. I’d rather call him by his real name. I hate it when a person gives another person another name, just so that they could fit in.

When I met him, he wore clothes just like us, preppy. I could not help but think if he would want to fit in the American norm. I treated him like he was a part of our family. When I looked at him, he looked friendly.

For most of the questions that I asked him, I had to make the questions simpler for him to understand.

Yannyi was born in 1993 in Hunan, China. It was really disturbing to ask him a question about how it feels like to be an only child. When I asked him that, he had on a happy mask, but I could see that he is having a hard time trying to understand what I am asking him.

“(I have) cousins to play, (so I feel) okay to be an only child,” said Yannyi.

He wakes up at 6:00 a.m., goes to school at 7:00 a.m., where classes are held from 7:30 until noon and then from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. He goes home and eats dinner and returns to school again from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m.

In the future, Yannyi wants to study science. He wants to go to college, and to Hunan University, in particular, where he would major in business.

He has taken an English class at school for the past four years. His hobbies are games, basketball, ping-pong, and tennis.

I always thought that Chinese students would play video games or become game freaks, but it was so shocking to learn that they do not.

To celebrate the New Year in China, his family eats a great feast. He does not know what the girls do for the New Year, but he celebrates the New Year with his family.

His school gave him the opportunity to visit America. It took him two days to get here. He told me things were different from here and over there. Their way of life was way more different and more difficult than I would have ever thought it would have.

“At China, (there is) more time (to) study,” said Yannyi.

The worst thing about China, according to Yannyi, is that there are “too many people,” The good thing on the other hand is that their culture is good.

The best thing about China to him is the girls and the food. He likes American food and says he does feel free here and is in such a big school. Over in China, he siad the schools are smaller and all he does is study.

He said that after coming to America, he felt that he was treated “weird,” but that for the most part America is just what he had expected to be.

Yes, there is a Hello Kitty factory in China. And yes they have a social networking site.

After the interview, I gained a new perspective about the Chinese teens and what they do over there. They are not like the Chinese teens depicted in the movies.

In real life, Chinese teens just want to have fun. They work really hard to earn their freedom, but I think that they are really struggling through their education.

I think China is putting their children into a too complicated life. I felt like they did not have any free time at all.

It was a good thing they came to visit the United States, because over here you have freedom. I really think that they felt a part of our freedom as well.

Li Yang likes the U.S.

Li Yang was born in May 24, 1994. She is 16 years old. Her American name is Betty.

She is the only child in her family and she feels special about that because her parents can put their full love on her. Sometimes she feels like she needs a brother but Li Yang says, “it’s okay”.

Betty has been in the United States for three days only. Her school gave her and other Chinese students the opportunity to come to America. It is an Educational Exchange.

They are nine students and three teachers in the group and they are going to be in the United States for only 15 days. After that they will go back to China. After nine days in Minnesota, they are going to New York, Washington and Boston.

When asked what the difference between China and America is, Betty said, “China has 5,000 years of cultural history”.

The Beijing Opera has kind of a song that explains China’s history. China is becoming an international country. America has less history than China. America developed very quickly. America is open, the environment is great, and it’s better than China. The weather is cool especially at 6:00 p.m.

Betty goes to High School. Her school starts at 7:00 a.m. and goes to 6:00 p.m. Then she goes to evening school to do her homework. In China everything is about learning, practicing and studying.

Betty began studying English when she was in third grade in elementary school. English has been taught in China for many years but the emphasis is much stronger now.

“This generation learns English earlier,” says Betty.

She studies from Monday to Saturday, morning to evening. On Sunday she spends most of the time doing homework, sometimes shopping or playing sports. She likes to play Tennis.

When Betty grows up, she wants to be a lawyer. Her parents want her to be a teacher or a doctor but she doesn’t want that. She is planning to attend college in Europe or America.

Betty said people in America welcomed her very well. People in America are open, friendly and happy to talk to them. She and a group went to Mall Of America, the University Of Minnesota and some Middle schools.

The family that hosted her is very nice.

“They become like my real family,” says Betty.

When there is a celebration or a holiday in China, Betty said that all the families gather and have a big dinner. After they are done they light fireworks with their grandparents.

They celebrate for seven days. Girls stay home with their family on the first three days. The other days they can hang out with friends and hold a party.

Betty climbed the Great Wall before but said her mother was didn’t want to make the scary long walk with her.

In China they have something called QQ.com and MSN. It’s like face book. You can chat with anyone around the whole world and looks forward to staying in touch with her new friends.

Dai Zi Hao likes Minnesota

My interview with Dai Zi Hao was a spur of the moment thing. I was still at work, and then was later asked to interview him.

While my interview with him I had to ask certain questions that he was supposed to answer. I felt that I should ask more than that was needed in the interview. Also while interviewing him I noticed that it was harder for him to understand me than it was for me to understand him.

I honestly felt really different considering that I had no Idea what he saying at times, but then later I got used to his accent.

My first question was who gave you the opportunity to come to America?

Dai Zi Hao replied, “my parents.”

Then I asked what is the difference between China and America? He replied “Culture, and American kids say good morning, not in China.”

When asked if America was what he’d expected, Hao replied that, “it was better.”

“I love America, the kindness, the education,” said Hao.

Hao was born in Hunan Province of China in 1992. He said that he loves the United States and didn’t have an answer or didn’t understand what I meant when I asked what he liked about China. When asked how he felt about being an only child, Hao said it ensured him a chance at a good education in Loudi.

Describing China, Hao said he has a “very busy every day.

The two week trip to America has fueled Hao’s ambitions to return to America someday and work on Wallstreet or at an American Bank.

“I want to go to University of Minnesota, to study law and finance,” said Hao.

To prepare for America Hao said he has studied English for three years and will continue so that he will be proficient by the time he is ready for college.

Hao said that he likes American food. His hobbies are basketball, bad mitten and ping pong.

The conversation concluded with talk about the importance of family during the Chinese New Year and of the many social networking sites in China.

Grace wants to be a doctor

Grace, one of many students at her school in China got the chance to come to the U.S.  She was born in Hunan, Loudi China in the year of 1994. Being the only child in her family she gets a little free time to hang out with her cousin.

Often she feels very lonely not having siblings. But the rest of her time is spent studying and going to school. She says she wants to be a doctor when she grows older.

So she studies very hard to succeed and get into a good university. Grace plans to go to college but struggles with not knowing which college she wants to go to. She may even go to college in America.

The biggest difference between America and China is the schools and classroom sizes. In China, they have about 50 students in one class, said Grace. School goes from 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and then has night school from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

There is an English language requirement in Chinese schools. It seems that all Grace does is go to school. She doesn’t spend much time on herself and her hobbies. School is very important and is held very high in their community.

I asked Grace what she does during the Chinese New Year.

“Playing cards and spending a lot of time with my family eating and watching the programs on TV,” said Grace. “I also get money after the New Year and that’s good.”

Grace doesn’t get to see the fireworks in real life, but she doesn’t mind much. What she really loves about her culture is the very colorful traditions and its rich history.

“That’s only some things but there is so much more,” Grace said.

“America is nice,” she added.

Grace really likes how the environment is clean and there is so much space compared to China. In China, she said they have really tall buildings, very little grass, and fewer choices she said.

Since being in America for only three days she has been to the Mall of America and Eden Prairie High School. She and her classmates still plan to do many other things for the next 14 days. They plan to go swimming and visit other states than just Minnesota. She loves the sweets and the food is okay.

Grace and her classmates are very excited for more of what America holds. They still want to see much more of America in the next two weeks.

This interview was conducted on August 5, 2010 at Broadway Community School.

Amee is all about work, work, work

Amme was born July 15, 1994 in Hunan China. She has been in America (mei auo) for 15 days on a vacation with her classmates. When she came she says the people were very nice, and she has just been enjoying her vacation since she’s been here.

According to her China is different from America. In China the weather is always hot, the streets are very populated, and the food is really spicy. She said she doesn’t like American food because it is not spicy enough. I asked her to describe how she feels about being in America.

“Very good in America because in China it is very hot and you see people everywhere,” said Amee.

She also likes that there are a lot of busses here in America. However she says she doesn’t like American food or American music because it is too loud.

Amee told me that she goes to school from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and then again from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. She said all she does all day is study, study, study, and she is tired when she comes home but she is too young to have a job. Obviously she doesn’t have that much free time but when she is not studying she is watching T.V at home.

She learned English from her teacher, Ms. Liu, and she wants to keep learning English and improve in the future. She likes to go shopping even though it is more expensive in China. She said a pair of shoes that cost $100 in America would cost $1,200 in China.

Amee was very surprised when I told her that the youth group was paid to attend the summer class. She said if they paid her to study she would study all day long.

How getting to know Zoe changed me

The nervousness and anxiety of going into the room of these fellow students who just came over to America from China, added to the anticipation of learning a whole new perspective on what it would be like to live on the other side of the world.

The pressure was building up to make connections with these students, which I found really exciting. It wasn’t a normal day that is highlighted with rehearsing the play; it was being in a room full of students that never experienced anything that I grew up with.

Let’s just say that I’m getting a better perspective on what the other side of the world is like, and of how their life style is different from what I see only on television.

I had this one opportunity to interview a fellow student. Her name was Zoe.

As I walked in to sit with her, I noticed that she had on a khaki 1970’s looking hat, a blue and white plaid shirt and shorts. She was there waiting for me patiently, texting on her phone, which I have never seen before in the United States.

It was because this was the first time I was meeting somebody from this culture that I took notice of the little things and that it was what really amazed me. It was the little unique things I notice about her that interested me a lot.

Zoe greeted me with a polite and calming smile that helped me relax. She explained the details of her trip including that the opportunity came from support through her “number one high school of Loudi,” but mostly from her “loving parents” who took part in a time consuming fundraising effort to make her dream trip come true.

Zoe was born on December 1, 1995 in the city of Loudi. She said her home life style is very pressured as an only child, but added that she understands her parents just want her to be a good person.

Her future goals in life are still undecided, however, she has a keen interest in law like her father who is a prosecutor. In her spare time she likes to study, paint, draw, badminton, reading, and sleeping (if that is a hobby).

Zoe gave me details of how they spend time together during the Chinese New Year. She says that families gather and spend time together, make dumplings, lotus, and many other foods. Sometimes they sing and dance, play cards or computer games. She said the New Year is also a time to study.

One thing that I found interesting about the Chinese New Year was that Chinese boy gets to do all the same thing as a Chinese girl, they can play together and do shopping together.

Zoe tends to think that the Hello Kitty Factory in China isn’t quite as cute as many other girls think it is. She’s not very fond of it.

Zoe interested me by giving me the details of how China is very historical, beautiful, and with very kind and warm-hearted people. She is too nervous to go out of the country alone and will stay in China to study law until she has the courage to go out and explore. She misses her traditional food back in China.

Zoe describes her experience so far in America that it is fantastic. Her new attitude has a lot to do with learning how to read, write and speak English at school her school.

The details of Zoe’s American experience were very positive nonetheless and would extend the 17-day tour if it were possible. She wants to continue with her shopping skills at the Mall Of America and visit more schools. She has developed a taste for beautiful clothes and modern technology.

Zoe described the biggest differences between China and America as transportation, clothing, technology, but that almost everything else is also very different. She said Americans are polite, patient, kind-hearted, and very generous. She loves the food in America and her favorite is salad and cake.

I was very fond of having Zoe as my guest. I thought that she was a shy, quiet girl, but I guess I only got those thoughts of Chinese girls from the television.

I found her to be very understandable and imaginable person. She is very generous and has a lot of empathy in her heart. She thought that the interview went well too.

I believe that befriending Zoe has made me realize what it is like to be in China, and how it gave me a completely different view on China’s modern life style and culture. I also want to give a huge thank you to my new friend Zoe for letting me have this interview with her and I hope that Zoe and her fellow classmate have an adventurous and exciting journey here in America.

Johnson wants to study in the U.S.

Johnson was born in the year 1994 in the town of Loudi in Hunan Province, China. After years of preparation he was given an opportunity to visit the United States by his mother and didn’t mind the 12-hour flight to Minnesota

Johnson said that the Chinese people are very hard workers and that students study from early morning to late evening. With little free time compared to their American counterparts, he still finds time to play his favorite sport of basketball.

As the only child in his family, Johnson said he is happy with all the attention and for being able to spend so much time with his parents.

Johnson’s thoughts on America are positive and he continues working hard learning English to hopefully return and study here rather than in China.

“Everyone is very wonderful so friendly and also so happy,” he said.

From the way Johnson describes China, everyone there is very dedicated to their work and is very peaceful. Still, he holds a dream of becoming a successful banker, of driving a Hummer H2, and of meeting the NBA superstars.

In China, Johnson still wants to be in the band, called “Spin the Flag” in Beijing. He said that all of his dreams include working hard to support his parents. He would like to move to Florida where his aunt lives and go to the college there where he can also learn more about auto mechanics to better understand his fascination with cars.

Johnson said that his preconceptions of America were of a very simple civilization. After arriving his thoughts turned to how nice and kind everyone was to him.

“They are nice and kind people, so friendly,” he added.

During his free time Johnson is either playing basketball or online visiting his favorite site, Round Bright Garden. During the Chinese New Year he said the family celebrates with fireworks. Johnson’s school schedule is very complicated. He wakes up at 6:00 a.m. and bikes to school before 7:30 a.m. He bikes home for lunch at noon, and is back in class from 2:00 until 6:00 p.m. After dinner he is back at school from 7:30 until 10:30 p.m.

Siman Jocelyn is all about family

It was the 5th of August and I was given the opportunity to come into Loretta’s room and interview Siman. Her English name Jocelyn.

Siman is a Chinese High School student. It was a great talk with her. This is my first time talking to someone who lives China.

During the interview I learned much from my partner and her culture. She seemed to be very proud, which is a wonderful thing as I learned a little bit more about her.

Siman was born on July 22, 1995 in the little town in Loudi in Hunan Province, China. She is the only child in her family and said it would be great to have a brother or sister because they can teach her how to take care of others.

She is not that lonely, however, as Siman has a great many friends in her life. Her hopes and dreams are to be a good daughter for her loving parents.

Siman would like to attend XiaMen University and study business and marketing. She would also like to be a kindergarten teacher because she loves kids.

Like many teenagers, Siman would like to earn a lot of money so that she can buy things for her parents and help ensure that her family will stay healthy. From her reactions I feel like she and her family get along well.

Her parents and school gave her the opportunity and support for her to visit America. The trip on the plane took 20 hours.

Asked to describe the difference between China and America, Siman said China has tall buildings in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai. There are many smaller cities in China too. In America, she said there are also many tall buildings but that there are more people of different races and ethnicities living here.

Siman thinks that she has leaned a lot about the United States and would like to live here some day.  One of her thoughts was that many people will fall in love with America after visiting.

As a Chinese citizen, Siman is very proud of her country with its big population, beautiful scenery, history and culture. The best things about China are the writing, tea, people, places like the Great Wall, food, and its culture. She also said that Chinese people are very friendly and hard workers.

Her first impression after arriving in America was that the people were friendly and polite. Siman learned English in school, and said it made the trio a little easier.

So far she has visited the University of Minnesota, went shopping at many malls, visit parks and an American high school. She said the American school schedule is different. In China, they have four morning classes from 8:00 a.m. until noon. The afternoon includes three classes with a 3:00 p.m. break to return home but are in school again at 6:00 p.m.

Siman was very comfortable with talking with me about her life and answering these questions. Siman is a hard worker and a proud Chinese. It was great to getting to know her and interview her. I hope things for her will be successful.

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