This August, students and teachers from around the world came together for a week of purposeful living, dedicated learning, and new experiences.
The World CitiZens Woodenfish August camp gathered at Long Longquan Temple in Taiyuan, Shanxi, China from August 3rd -- 9th. The camp was a great success for both staff and students.
The focus of Global CitiZens August English Camp is to teach English communication to Chinese youth. The Woodenfish Foundation and staff take pride in their unique method of teaching, as they care not only about the mechanics and fundamentals of the English language, but also inspire the benefits and strategies of communicating more thoughtfully and harmoniously. This year, students had many great learning opportunities and embraced the week-long experience with an attitude of persistence and curiosity.
Each morning, the students awoke before dawn and gathered for morning movement meditation, purposefully crafted to get students bodies up and energized, while practicing the calming of the mind. Stretching, walking, singing, and meditation helped cultivate the qualities needed to learn and cooperate throughout the day. The days were full and stimulating, with lectures and activities ranging from the American courtroom, to improvisational dance. Rigorous English lessons were interspersed with lectures and activities, providing useful new vocabulary and grammar practice.
The program’s goal is to provide practice and benefit to each student, no matter the English proficiency upon arrival. This was achieved by skillfully designing language groups and classroom layout to support each learner. The staff encouraged and facilitated a student-to-student support system, offering more support to beginners and great interpreting experience to our advanced students.
This year, students were lucky to participate in multiple simulations, including several American Courtroom Simulations lead by a true New Jersey Judge, Matthew H. Powals, and a heated Model United Nations simulation where students argued and negotiated on current political issues. Students also learned about American folklore and culture, mythology, community building, and the American university system. Fun activities and games provided space for English conversation and cooperation practice.
Venerable Yifa inspired and supported the students with daily Dharma talks, discussions, and reflections. Students learned of traditional Buddhism through generationally relevant means, posed towards young, bright minds emerging into the world. Venerable Yifa used both Chinese and English to engage the students in thinking about their existence in a more skillful and new way. Students also enjoyed the calming practice of copying a Buddhist Sutra to some relaxing background music.
The week culminated with an all English talent show, where the students showcased their hard work and creative abilities with a dance performance lead by Beijing-based dance instructor, Sophi Qi.
Many new friendships were formed and many new vocabulary words were learned, but one phrase was continuously heard coming from all, even the most beginner students-- “We are family”. A special community was formed over the course of the week that went beyond linguistic practice. The camp while only one week in duration, it will hopefully inspire and energize students and staff for the academic year approaching at summer’s end. The Woodenfish staff is already challenging themselves to improve the experience of next year’s program, while encouraging the students to keep up the good work of learning English.