Summer is winding down and thoughts are turning to school supplies and lunch box treats. Some of Davidson young people have had interesting summer school adventures and today we highlight Rachel Mazur’s weeks at Oxford University as well as Emma and Tilly Boraks’s month in Taiwan. There is also a note about the Community Garden’s produce numbers.
NI HAO – HELLO IN MANDARIN CHINESE
Imagine knowing that you are headed to Taiwan for a month and will be enrolled in basic Mandarin Chinese classes. This is what faced Emma Boraks and her younger sister, Tilly, daughters of Shelley Rigger and David Boraks this past June. Emma, a rising 10th grader in the IB program at North Mecklenburg High School, agreed to write a few words about her experience. What follows is a delightful report from a very good writer!
500 WORDS ON LEARNING A NEW LANGUAGE IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY
This summer I had the opportunity to go to Taiwan to learn Mandarin Chinese. I’ve lived in Taiwan before, and knew at least the beginnings of the language, and that had been like a tantalizing glimpse of a hidden world. My memories of the place were blurred, all soft edges and colors and sounds and feelings, save for a few things. One of those things was the day I had been looking at street signs and realized I could understand the song the characters had been trying so hard to whisper in my ear.
To be going back was…amazing.
So my mom and sister and I packed up our bags and went. We had a day to explore the city and then it was time for camp.
The first day was horrendous.
At 9:00am sharp, we were brought up to a frigid classroom with messy rows of one person desks. About 50 other kids (one third of the camp) were sitting there, totally silent. Once everyone had arrived, a teacher began giving directions in rapid Mandarin. All the kids looked like they knew what was going on. We were supposed to be taking a placement test to figure out which level of class we needed to go to. Unfortunately (for us), the test was entirely in Mandarin. At the end of the day, I was feeling stupid, stupid, stupid, and I never wanted to go back there again.
The second day, we were sorted into classes. Tilly and I were in the lowest level, which had about 15 kids in it, ranging from ages 9 to 14. We were late, but it only got better from there. Our teacher started teaching us about tones which was something I’ve known since I was eight. I didn’t feel so stupid anymore.
Over the next three weeks, we learned a lot and got to meet some great people. Erin and Haysie, sisters from New Jersey, and Chloe, who was very proud to be Hawaiian, and Brendan, a boy who had grown up in Hong-Kong, and was naturally very good at Mandarin. We didn’t like Brendan much at first, and were convinced he had cheated on the placement test. There were others too, and it’s odd to think of how well we got to know each other in such a short time.
But I think the best part of school was when it was over and Tilly and I would walk to Bread Society and get delicious cakes or buns or bread, and sit at their delicate tables and do our homework. When we were done, I would read to her from whatever book I happened to be reading.
At the end of the three weeks, I wasn’t ready to go home. It was a great experience and I know I’ll spend hours replaying it in my mind until I get the chance to go back. There are so many more things I could say, but none are as memorable as those I learned at camp.
(And just a note to say that DavidsonNews.net editor does take a vacation once in a while. David Boraks got to join his family in Taiwan for ten days at the end of July. A delightful and welcome break for David!)
SUMMER STUDIES AT OXFORD
Rachel Mazur, a rising 10th grader at Cannon School, wanted to try something different this summer. She went to the Internet and found a program in Creative Writing offered at Oxford University in England. It turns out that Cannon School was familiar with Oxford’s offerings and had good experiences with other Cannon students. Rachel sent the necessary application and sample essay and soon found herself headed to the British Isles.
Rachel’s specific program was for close to 200 rising 9th and 10thgraders from around the world – although about half came from the States. She lived in a college dorm at Oxford and had instruction in Creative Writing three hours a day from 9-noon, six days a week. Rachel’s creative writing teacher was an author who lived in London. She and the 15 other students in his class thought he was wonderful.
Each student chose an additional area of interest which for Rachel was Studio Art. She had instruction in acrylics three days a week from 1:30-3:30 in the afternoon. Breakfast and dinner were provided for the students in the eating halls. Favorite breakfast foods were “Frosties” (the English version of Frosted Flakes) and Nutella on toast. Dinner was cafeteria style. Lunch was on your own in the town of Oxford. It wasn’t long before Rachel and her best friends found a local Panini restaurant which was their daily “hangout.”
In addition to her studies, Rachel made many new friends. Her “core group” consisted of five other students with hometowns in Canada, Costa Rica, Singapore, Seattle and Philadelphia. On Sundays they explored the area, tried punting (propelling a small boat along a river by pushing against the river bed with a pole) and just relaxed. As many who traveled in England before the Olympics can attest, the weather was cold and wet but national pride was evident everywhere with flags flying everywhere. Rachel even got to see the Olympic torch as it passed through Oxford and finally enjoyed warm, sunny weather during her last week there.
Now that she is home in Davidson with Mom Louise and Dad Mike, Rachel can reflect on her weeks in England. She found the Oxford program well managed and academically strong. She looks forward to keeping up with her new friends and is already thinking about spending another summer in England in the future. Right now, however, she is looking forward to her sophomore year at Cannon where she is active in theater in the fall and softball in the spring.
Thanks, Rachel, for sharing your experience with Around Davidson.
COMMUNITY GARDEN TOPS 1,000
We continue to be impressed with the output of produce from the Community Garden on Potts Street in Davidson. A group of energetic, committed workers have been on hand every Saturday throughout the summer to harvest vegetables for distribution through “Loaves and Fishes” at Ada Jenkins. As of August 2, a total of 1,057 pounds of produce was delivered to the pantry. Kudos to these dedicated gardeners! Bet that total has grown a lot with the addition of harvested peppers, cukes, tomatoes, melons, okra and the last of the beans. We will keep you posted.
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