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High school students learn new language with summer program
By Lori Ann Prado, Intern
381-2741
Posted: 06/24/2009
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The demand for professionals with multi-cultural understanding and language skills is on the rise and The University of Texas-Pan American is helping high school students enhance their marketability by offering the Chinese Language and Culture Summer Institute June 8-July 10. The program is sponsored by the Integrated Global Knowledge and Understanding Collaboration (IGkNU) department which promotes education for vast career opportunities with government sectors and beyond.


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Instructor Zhehg Huiqiang teaches students tai chi during UTPA's summer language program.
“This camp is the only one of its kind in all of South Texas and it will help prepare our students to be future U.S. leaders. Camps like this help motivate our students to further develop their potential and keep them from settling for what is convenient or typical,” said Jenny Chamberlain, IGkNU program outreach specialist.

Thirteen high school sophomores and juniors are participating in the program from Edcouch-Elsa, PSJA, IDEA Academy, and South Texas Independent School District. Students were required to have a minimum of 2.5 GPA and were encouraged to submit two teacher recommendations with their application.

“I’d tell other students thinking about participating in the program in the future to take the opportunity. The instructors are very patient; they can work with you, because they know your native language is not Chinese. It’s a great way to become more open-minded about other cultures that you are not familiar with,” said Edith Benavides from Mission High School, who is concurrently enrolled in the course.

The five-week intensive summer camp gives Benavides and the three other concurrently enrolled students the opportunity to earn six hours of University language credit during the institute, which consists of two courses — Beginners Mandarin Chinese and Chinese Culture and Literature.

“Today’s demand for professionals who understand cultures and fluently speak languages as complex as Mandarin Chinese is at an all-time high,” said Citlalli Garcia, IGkNU graduate assistant. “Through this program we hope that students will learn some Chinese culture and learn Mandarin, but most importantly, we hope they will continue learning in the future. We are planting a seed that will benefit them and make them more competitive in their future careers in the global economy.”

The Chinese Culture and Literature course familiarizes students with traditions, art, literature and history of a society. Students are expected to read Chinese materials such as fiction, classic books and general reference documents and discuss them between their peers and educators. Beginners Mandarin Chinese will introduce students to the writing system and basic language, while training to function successfully in the culture. Evaluation will be based on daily performance. Chinese character writing, painting, tai chi, among other various activities, are also included in the program.

For more information about Mandarin Chinese Language and Culture Summer Institute, visit the IGkNU Web site at www.utpa.edu/igknu.

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