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Published December 05, 2012, 07:02 AM

Professor from China learns about North Dakota life

Since early September Zhu Shuyi has been in Jamestown learning one language, teaching another and meeting people a world away from her home. Originally from Huizhou, in Guangdong Province, China, this guest professor at Jamestown College found life moves at a different pace here in the Buffalo City.

Since early September Zhu Shuyi has been in Jamestown learning one language, teaching another and meeting people a world away from her home.

Originally from Huizhou, in Guangdong Province, China, this guest professor at Jamestown College found life moves at a different pace here in the Buffalo City.

Jamestown is a drop in the bucket population-wise, compared to Huizhou, a medium-size Chinese city of roughly 2 million people.

“The people that live here are nice,” Zhu said. “They don’t have the distance. In China we keep a distance from strangers.”

Life here is more peaceful, relaxed and more humorous than in China, she said.

“My concept of city is totally different,” she said.

Mass public transportation is a critical part of life in Huizhou. So when Zhu found she could call James River Public Transit for a free ride — it was a shock.

At Huizhou University, a JC sister school, Zhu teaches applied linguistics, modern Chinese, Chinese as a second language and Mandarin.

Here she teaches Chinese courses at JC and works with talented and gifted students in elementary schools as well as with after-school groups.

“First I will tell about my feeling of the school system is totally different,” Zhu said, on what she will tell colleagues back in China when she returns home. “In the college it’s a totally different system.”

The lecturer said higher education in America is more homework and quiz intensive. While in China she might assign one homework assignment over the course of a semester.

At the elementary level, Zhu said, facilities are better here and there are more school supplies for teachers to use.

Zhu said while working with elementary students that activities convey the message better than strict lesson plans.

“I think for the kids you should do something interesting,” she said. “If you just say ‘ni hao’ (Mandarin for hello) it’s something boring.”

So some actions for students include learning Chinese characters, learning the Chinese zodiac calendar and making bracelets with Chinese knots.

Even on a North Dakota farm, Zhu said she noticed differences compared to China.

“The farming is more advanced with technology, that surprised me,” Zhu said. In China the farm work involves more manual labor, she said.

Jamestown College is currently in its second of an initial three-year partnership with Huizhou University. It may seek to renew the partnership later.

Last year instructors from Huizhou that visited Jamestown helped convince Zhu to try a move here for a semester.

“I’m also interest in cross culture,” she said. “I’m interested in the America culture.”

As a way to share the Chinese culture with North Dakotans, Zhu is hosting “Gateway to China” from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at L2 in Jamestown College’s Nafus Student Center.

The free event is open to the public and will include calligraphy, games, food, Chinese characters, knot tying, pictures, music film and more.

“I want to let more people share Chinese culture,” Zhu said. “I think that’s the biggest purpose to let more people learn about China.”

Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at brodgers@jamestownsun.com

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