Summer Camp Diary
Ping Pong is one of the most popular Chinese sports, its popularity is increasing in NYC with clubs like SPIN up located in Manhattan. It’s a low-risk sport that is highly challenging physically (dexterity) and cognitively stimulating (strategies).
Our program brought the children to Wang Chen Table Tennis Club, located on West 100th Street (between Broadway & End Ave). This club is often used as the training ground for the Beijing Tennis Team when they compete in the U.S..
Ranked as 4th best player in the world from 1994 to 1998, Wang Chen used to be a Chinese World Champion Team member, and in the past few years, she has won several North American and U.S. Championships. In the 2008 Olympics, she represented the U.S. and took 5th place for Women's Single in Table Tennis, the highest the US has ever reached in this sport.
A pleasant surprise came when a child voiced out, "I want to be like one of those girl grown-up Ping Pong players!" This experience and exposure to something new has given this child a drive to strive a goal, and despite how far she will go with this sport, it is the desire that she now has that is most valuable.
Chinese Theatre Works: Children's Shadow Puppets
At the Chinese Theatre Workshop, Co-artistic directors Kuang-Yu Fong and Stephen Kaplin showed us beautiful puppets from many parts of the world, and particularly Chinese shadow puppets. They guided each of us to design, make and perform with our own puppets!
We don’t necessarily need to travel to China for authentic Chinese culture. Our community study included visits to at least three Chinese communities right here in NYC that deserve to be recognized and enjoyed. The children spent time interviewing multiple individuals to discover the various aspects of these communities. Information and data gathered through such interviews are then analyzed and presented (at age appropriate levels) with the help of the teachers. The result findings showed the differences and commonalities among the communities.
Our journey began from the better-known Chinatown in lower Manhattan, then onward to Flushing (Queens), and finally ending at the 8th Avenue Chinese Community in Brooklyn.
These communities are different in various aspects, such as residents’ regions of immigration from China, dialects, and how homogeneous each community really is. While Chinatown consists of a mixture of very old immigrant groups (mostly Cantonese-speaking) and the very new (mostly Fujianese-speaking), Flushing has a more balanced mixture of people from all over China and other Chinese-speaking regions and nations (such as Taiwan). Perhaps the best known Chinese community is the Chinatown located in lower Manhattan, but it also because of its convenient location that it has since been flooded with tourists and a lot of the authenticity is either lost or forgotten. However, when you step foot onto the streets of the 8th Avenue Chinese community in Brooklyn, the experience is much more different because of the lack of tourists due to its less convenient location.
To encourage children to actively engage in learning about the communities, we developed a survey that guides children to ask (in Chinese or English depending on the child’s Chinese level) the interviewees which parts of China where they came from, how long they have been here, why they came to the States and what they like about their new country.
Through this project, children gained a deeper understanding of the communities by acquiring a scientific tool that affords them an empirical approach to learning about communities.