At Troy University, a group of teenagers and teachers are immersing themselves in a new culture.
TROY-STAR Summer Camp is a two-week immersive program where 24 high school students and 12 teachers are learning more about the Chinese language and culture. The camp is directed by TROY professors Dr. Rui Feng and Dr. Iris Xu.
The students are split up into beginner and advanced classes, while the teachers participate in linguistic-based courses that show them how to teach the language.
“There’s a whole science behind teaching a language,” Austin Deal, the program manager of TROY-STAR, said. “It isn’t as easy as if you can speak another language, you can teach one. There’s a science behind that and that’s what we focus on in the teachers’ program.”
The students and teachers sit down and have individual sessions to help each other with the language.
“Sometimes they’ll combine and have conversational sessions,” Deal said. “It allows the teachers an opportunity to use the skills they’ve learned to teach, and it also gives the students an opportunity to learn Chinese.”
For student Laurel Impelo, the camp was recommended by her teacher from school “to excellerate her learning over the summer.”
“She said it’s a really good opportunity to have more conversational Chinese and to practice being in an immersive setting,” Impelo said. “I really wanted to try and get out of my comfort zone.”
Victoria Kim attends school with Impelo, but her reasons for coming to the camp are a little different.
“I learn better when I’m immersed in the culture and the language,” Kim said. “It’s hard to learn when you’re only learning Chinese for one hour a day, and even then, it’s not focused on you, it’s focused on a class. But here we have separate teachers that focus on you.”
In addition to the Chinese language, the students and teachers are learning more about the culture as well.
Participants learn traditional dances and games such as the dragon dance, the XingJiang dance and Diabolo, or Chinese yoyoing.
The students will showcase their talents and what they’ve learned to family members during the closing ceremony, which will take place at 8 a.m. on Saturday, July 10 in the Trojan Center Theatre on the Troy Campus.