Saturday, December 20, 2008


Yesterday evening I received my final placement for going abroad this summer with the Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates (GIEU). I was assigned the China trip titled 'Cross Cultural Communication through Art: Community Work with HIV Affected Youth.' I'm SO EXCITED! The program description is as follows:

In collaboration with Golden Courage International and the University of Michigan Musical Society, GIEU students will use the arts to deepen their cross-cultural understanding, co-creating with Chinese artists, HIV/AIDS-orphaned youth and caring adults. They will experience Chinese arts and culture through performances and field trips and use the arts as a medium for teaching English to Chinese children and teachers.

The program is scheduled for June 1 - 29, 2009 and will take place in and around Beijing, China. The trip is basically divided into 4 weeks - each week filled with different activities and objectives. 

Week 1: We will stay in Beijing while experiencing the arts of China, including traditional Chinese opera, modern Chinese opera, traditional Chinese music and Chinese acrobatics. 

Week 2: We will volunteer in the public school system (K - high school) at an on-campus school site a few hours drive outside of Beijing, teaching English and American arts to Chinese youth.

Week 3: Similar to week 2. We will share our experiences from week 2 at a second on-campus school site that will give us an opportunity to practice our new skills a second time while connecting with more children in China and use our knowledge of culture to teach basic English conversation to the children, using arts to increase and enhance communication skills.

Week 4: We (U of M and the Chinese students) will experience China together by going to some of China's most famous sites. These sites include the Great Wall of China, Chinese night markets, Summer Palace, the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, the National Museum, Old Beijing, the Bird's Nest (aka: the Chinese Olympic stadium from Summer 2008), and National City. We will also create a final presentation and performance of experiences in China. This project will be presented in front of Chinese officials as well as University of Michigan community and friends with musical accompaniment provided by Chinese university students.

The school that we're collaborating with is called Golden Courage International (GCI). It is an incredible institution that rescues a number of Chinese youth from severe poverty, HIV/AIDS and prostitution in China. For most, it is an experience of a lifetime and they sound very excited and grateful to be part of such a wonderfully supported school. I urge you to check out the website and even read some of the children's biographies. They will melt your heart. I CANNOT WAIT to meet them this summer!

And so begin my adventures in China! For the next 4-6 months, I will be meeting with my team, going on retreats, learning Mandarin Chinese, planning a teaching curriculum for both the Chinese teachers and students, learning to use Photovoice (an arts teaching tool that focuses on photography) as well as many other activities that will enhance the experience and broaden my horizons.  

Please check back often, as I will make updates throughout the winter semester in Ann Arbor. I have limited knowledge of what our hotel arrangements will be like in Beijing, but I have been told I will have internet access and therefore, will be blogging every night (I will be 13 hours ahead of Eastern time in the USA) to keep everyone up on what I'm doing. Pictures will be posted as I upload them onto my computer as well. For now, happy holidays and thank you all for your excitement! 

Love and go blue!