On every Tuesday from Jan. 28 to April 21, topics like the vibrant Peking opera and tea culture are brought closer to home during Chinese Hour.
From 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., Chinese Hour, a weekly walk-in event, takes place in Oldfather Hall, Room 1126. Chinese foreign language teaching assistant Yi Yu coordinates and hosts the event, aiming to create a well-rounded learning experience for all students.
Chinese Hour is not limited to those who are currently enrolled in a Mandarin Chinese course — anyone who is interested in Chinese culture is welcome to attend.
Yu is part of the Fulbright Program, an exchange program that connected her with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to teach Mandarin Chinese classes. She said she enjoys teaching her regular classes as well as Chinese Hour, which allows her to expand on subjects relating to China and the Chinese language and give students new insights.
She also said the class is for learning the language, so there isn’t much time to learn about culture, besides a few passages in the textbook. Chinese Hour is an opportunity for Yu to teach students about Chinese culture and history, in addition to the language.
“Students are interested in other things, not only the language. They want to know more,” Yu said. “We should be responsible for bringing our culture to American students. We are here as real samples of our culture for students to learn from.”
Abby Queen, a sophomore global studies major with an Asian studies minor, completed two levels of Mandarin Chinese and frequently attended Chinese Hour last semester. She said she always wanted to learn a new language and was particularly drawn to Mandarin.
“I thought Mandarin would be a nice challenge,” she said. “I am very interested in learning about Asian cultures, so that was also a big push toward Mandarin.”
In the fall semester, Yu covered one topic each week, totaling 12 cultural topics that included the Chinese zodiac signs, Chinese wedding traditions and travel destinations in China.
To create her lesson plan, Yu said she researches topics she would like to teach and chooses subjects she ultimately thinks will appeal to students. She said she also takes into consideration what her students would like to learn and curates a full schedule for next semester’s curriculum.
Yu will cover topics such as the Chinese Spring Festival, tea culture, Chinese currency and Chinese kites over the spring semester.
At the beginning of the event, she shares a short video she finds that highlights the topic of the day. The video serves as a warm-up, with the rest of the time spent engaging in more in-depth conversations about the video and the lesson for the day.
“Coming to Chinese Hour and learning about the culture will help students know how Chinese people are living and what China is really like,” Yu said.