The Confucius Institute at the University of Arizona’s "Chinese Star" Summer Camp attracted nearly a hundred students in Tucson

June 19, 2015

After careful planning and meticulous preparation, the ten-day Confucius Institute at the University of Arizona’s (CIUA) "Chinese Star" Summer Camp was held as scheduled at the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center (TCCC) from June 8th-19th 2015.  The Camp attracted 90 local student participates – the maximum logistically possible – and there were many students still on the waiting list.
At the Camp’s opening ceremony, CIUA Co-Directors Professor Zhao Chen and Professor John Olsen described the background and significance of the summer camp and welcomed all participating students and their parents. CIUA Chinese Director Professor Wei Zhao introduced the Camp’s features and courses. Leaders of the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center and the local Chinese school principal also offered their heartfelt welcome. Eleven teachers from the Confucius Institute Headquarters in China and six local staff members and volunteers took on the management and supervision of the camp and the implementation of all its programs. Tucson Chinese School Principal Mr. Rongji Chen supervised and led the Chinese food service team.
The camp featured prominently as a unique summer offering in Tucson. To emphasize and highlight important aspects of traditional Chinese culture, the 2015 CIUA summer camp focused on the ten integrative values of "love," "respect," "diligence," "kindness," "faith," "harmony," "modesty", " morality," "thrift" and "politeness" with one concept emphasized each day to enhance American students’ understanding of Chinese cultural values while experiencing daily life in the Camp.  At the same time, this approach allowed the promotion of Chinese language study in the United States since CIUA’s Camp employed the "half immersion" teaching method in which students spent half of each day studying Chinese topics solely in Chinese language.
To highlight these characteristics, the Camp provided a variety of Chinese culture experience courses, Chinese language teaching based on ten themes of Chinese traditional songs, traditional music appreciation (including basic introductions to the erhu, guzheng, ruan and other traditional musical instruments) learning Chinese martial arts, Shaolin boxing spirit, dragon and lion dances, calligraphy and painting, traditional origami, paper cutting, making lanterns and Peking Opera masks, and Chinese traditional cuisine and food preparation and tasting. Rich and varied language and cultural experiences reinforced the ten traditional values, so that each camper came to deeply appreciate China's traditional culture.  Speaking less than fully-fluent Chinese, a parent of two campers, Michael Schwartz, said excitedly: "I like the Chinese Star Summer Camp and next year we will come back again."  Michael and his wife are very fond of China, and their two sons also attended the camp last year.  Their children experienced real Chinese culture and traditions, such as diligence, humility, and thrift, which will hopefully leave a life-long positive impression.
This Camp also received strong support from the Arizona Youth University and Tucson Chinese Cultural Center, local high school students and community volunteers who all assisted at the scene.
At the Camp closing ceremony, CIUA Chinese Director Professor Zhao Wei said: “China has a history of five thousand years of civilization; many valuable cultural and spiritual aspects not only belong to China but also to the world. Through the "Chinese Star" Summer Camp these important components of traditional Chinese culture can be shared with students and parents in the United States, and bring China's precious cultural wealth of human and spiritual civilization, promoting mutual exchange and learning, understanding and friendship between the United States and China, furthering world peace and progress of development.”