Teens from China learn art at Anna Maria College

Teens from China learn art at Anna Maria College
For 23 young adults from a school in Suzhou, China, Anna Maria College in Paxton became home for a week as they immersed themselves in art and English classes.

As part of a first-ever program through the Northborough-based language school, Global Connect Forum (GCF), this group of students traveled halfway around the world to improve their English language skills with teachers from GCF and to learn drawing, photography and graphic design from two professors at AMC.

“People are good at explaining themselves in the art classes, so we can ask them to use their English language skills and maybe even have them learn some new words,” Wackell said.David Wackell, professor of art at AMC and one of the two professors working with the students who studied abroad the second week in July, said he teaches the drawing class and works with the students to express themselves through art.

One of Wackell’s students, who nicknamed himself “Brock,” spent two hours in class and three hours of his own free time sketching the president’s house.

“My student, I am so proud of him, he worked very hard on this,” Wackell said. “…He seems very proud of this and was very proud when I showed other people.”

For most students, this wasn’t their first trip to the U.S. But for some, it was their first trip to the east coast.

Thirteen-year-old Jia Ye Li said he enjoyed playing basketball with his fellow classmates, as well as with some local college students, but what he enjoyed most is drawing the wildlife on campus.

“It’s very clean and natural,” Li said.

Like the other 22 students in the program, Li studies at Suzhou Industrial Park Foreign Language School in China.

GCF founder Xin Xin said coming to Paxton is a drastic change for the students because it is a more rural setting, while the students are more used to the hustle and bustle of Suzhou.

“They’re all from a big city,” Xin Xin said. “In Suzhou, there are not a lot of hiking areas there. They really enjoy the nature and the wildlife here.”

The program took the young adult participants to Paxton from July 9 through July 14, Xin Xin said. That week was strictly for academic studies. For the following week, the students would fly to Orlando where they would tour NASA and spend two days bouncing from Universal Studios to Disney World. “Because it’s summer, if you do physics or chemistry, that’s too academic,” Xin Xin said. “Art, most people can accept that.”

When the students aren’t in the classroom, they have the entire AMC grounds to explore. One of the teachers, Damon Dong, took his students hiking on campus to acclimate them to the area.

“They started to talk to local people and local students,” Dong said. “The first time they’re too shy to express themselves and to say that they want to play with them, like play football or play basketball. But I think it’s been a big improvement for them.”

Because Dong has a lot of the same students in his classroom at the international school in Suzhou, he said he’s able to better connect with them. But some of the students are away without their parents for the first time, and they’ve had to take care of themselves in ways they haven’t had to before.

“In China and Suzhou they just play and study, and here, they do some laundry and order the meals by themselves,” Dong said.

Another instructor with the program, Radiant Zhang, said she also saw the teens open up more as they interacted with locals in English.

“The first day of being here they played basketball with the U.S. students,” Zhang said. “They enjoyed playing with them, [whereas] before I think they were very shy, and they didn’t want to talk with anybody else.”

While the students aged between 12 and 17 years old are having fun playing around on campus, they’re also learning new words and how to use them, from “relax” to “phobia.”

GCF hopes to use the success of this summer’s program as a jump-off point into next summer, when they hope to have groups of kindergarteners come to Paxton to have a similar experience. Article was written by Rachel Ettlinger, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Article taken from:


Emergency Leadership at Anna Maria College
Equestrian team forms at Anna Maria