|Chris Cervantes and Robbie Fus (both Atkins HS) |
show off their prepared Chinese noodles
"I had never really had real Chinese food before," said student Jacqueline Bishop, who is a rising sophomore at Atkins HS. The three-week program at Winston-Salem State University accepted 20 high school students and 11 college students for an intensive Chinese language immersion course, with the theme of "Food and Wellness." From the very start, cultural activities were built into the program, with art, games, music, and food being an integral part of the student activities.
Of the program's participants, the majority are from Forsyth and Guilford Counties, although one high school student traveled from Alamance County, one college student from Chapel Hill, and another student is even from Louisiana (living with a cousin during the three-week program). There was a waiting list this year for the program, and many of its students already are looking forward to next year's class, which offers three credit hours for its college students.
"Learning the culture is just as important as learning the language," in a world language course, said Program Director Wen Xiong, who teaches Chinese at WSSU and is the department chair of its World Languages and Cultures department.
The program will also take its students to the NC Triangle area to visit a large Chinese market, a Buddhist temple, the Ackland Art Museum, and one of the best Chinese restaurants in the country.
The students also had an activity in the Simon's Community Gardens community garden space, where they learned about the mission and purpose of the garden, and had a fun activity finding and identifying a variety of vegetables. Raised beds are available for annual rent in the community garden as a part of bringing more fresh, healthy food to the south Winston area. Garden manager Kyle Luth also brings special cooking events to the garden and runs a farmer's market each Saturday morning with bags of vegetables selling for an affordable $1.
Telissa Ward, Kitchen Manager for the Enterprise Center helped the program with the arrangements, including staffing a professional chef to help with the food prep and cooking. The Enterprise Center's shared use kitchen is the first of its kind anywhere in Winston-Salem, and is available for businesses to rent out for events.
The Chinese program at WSSU is a free, scholarship-based program offered as a part of the federally funded STARTALK program. Plans are being made to repeat the program in future years. The program website is where students can register, once the program for next year is finalized, as early as January or February 2020. You can see more pictures (and even videos) of the program's activities at its Google site.
The mission of the Sister Cities organization is to promote awareness and understanding across cultures, through programs and events such as the STARTALK program's day in the kitchen. The Winston-Salem group has sister cities in Ghana, Liberia, the Bahamas, China, and Moldova, It is actively seeking new members and opportunities to find partnerships in the arts, education, and business to promote its global mission.