Friday, November 25, 2011

China Exchange Game Night

The new group just hosted their first China Exchange Game Night, which is fast becoming a Marble Hill tradition. A good portion of the school came out to play video games, board games, eat, get their limbo on, and hang out. Thanks to Build On and Health Club in particular for coming out and supporting us!

 Raffle! Proceeds donated to China Exchange. Thanks Mr. Barreto!

Limbo Competition

China Exchange Club

 Amaris & Mariama holding the fort down at the China Exchange table

 Octiz, Mariama, Ms. Lo, & Ms. M

Health Club checking students' blood pressure!

Build On

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fundraising at Parent-Teacher Night

This year's students showed off their sales skills at Parent-Teacher night this October! We made almost $300 in sales and donations. Big thank you to everyone who helped out, donated, or bought!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Gaming in China

 an article by Michael Murillo

A favorite past time nowadays is playing video games. We think of the Nintendo Wii, or the X Box 360, or the Play Station 3. Or some others prefer the Hand-Held like the DS or PSP. We have all this free time to waste so we are all able to play them. New games are always coming out for about $50 each. But in China students don’t  spend their money on new video games. Most of them don’t own any systems. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any, but they are very rare to see.  There are a lot of fake PSP and other hand helds. But they aren’t interested in buying these things. This doesn’t mean that they don’t play games, they do. They play their video games through the computer. They are huge computer games fans. The most popular game is Cross Fire. It’s an online game where you could play with friends or random people. My brother Peter showed me this game.  There are many other games.  There are other shooting games and adventure games. There are also other types of games, most games are based on war. Another popular game is a studying game. I don’t know the game itself but Peter, Lucy and Iris told me about it. It seems to be another popular fun game. Another good thing about computer games are that they are free and  easy to get. But they have to be careful for viruses. But these students don’t play these games all the time. Maybe for a short period of time in the weekend. Maybe that’s something we could learn from them.

Chinese Music

an article by Jose Frias

The music of China is a very unique part of the culture of China. Cultural music in china usually contains drums, bells, and flutes which come in many different sizes, shapes, and materials. In China i saw drums that were small, big, huge, short, and tall. These drums were also in many shapes such as octagons, circular, and many more shapes. The drums were made of all sorts of materials such as wood, stone, metal, and much more. These weren't as simple as just size, shape, and material they were much more complex in that they were very detailed with many colors and different drawings of animals, flowers, shapes, writings, and they sometimes also had accessories hanging of them. The bells were more simple then the drums were because the bells were just eight bells hanging of wood with spikes, writing, or drawings on them and they weren't as colorful as the drums were. The flutes were more like the bells as well because they were just in different sizes with different pictures and they were all brown. These instruments weren't all about how cool they looked, it was more about what they could with the right person handling them, which was the true beauty behind these instruments.

Chinese Politics

an article by Keyla Inoa

To most Americans the People’s Republic of China’s Communist government is one that threatens America and jeopardizes Chinese lives for the benefit of their national economy. However, the Chinese people seem to have a different perspective of their own government.
Despite its label as a Communist country, the Chinese government implemented a capitalist economy in 1978. This decision allows for private businesses and a wide range of family incomes to be created, which include those at a poverty level. Currently led by Hu Jintao, China seems to be prosperous and rapidly rising to be one of the world’s largest economies. However, most of its people seem to live in poverty. When riding a train from Xi’an to Nanjing, the Chinese Exchange club students witnessed people who were impoverished. We went to the second class area and found ourselves with people, both children and adults alike, sitting on the floor – this was a twenty-four-hour overnight train. We offered the people fruits that we had available, and while they seemed to take them, they looked around at one another and politely declined. On the other hand, while with our host families, we got to experience another side of China. Our host parents were professionals, with careers as doctors, and editors and police officers. While one may think that they must have an abundance of money, that is not the case. While in a gathering, my host mother asked Monica and I what her social status would be like in the United States, Monica asked, “well, how much do you make a year?” My host mother responded, “twenty-four thousand” and Monica simply said, “You would be poor, like really poor” which brought laughter to the group. (Of course, the cost of living is much lower in China than in the United States, so twenty-four thousand goes a lot further!)
China, known for its many intellectuals, fails to inform its people of political matters that deal with Taiwan and critical opinion of China. Taiwan claims to be a separate country from mainland China and is in the midst of fighting for its independence. Yet, when presented with this fact Peter, one of the Chinese students, was shocked. He asked Ms. McMurdo for a clarification of the situation. Once Ms. McMurdo’s explanation concluded, Mina, the Chinese teacher, turned to Ms. McMurdo and asked her to not speak of the issue because the students are not taught about it in school. Additionally, the Chinese government continues to censor the information that travels through its people. China censors political speech and information, including on the Internet, which is why when attempting to log onto American websites such as YouTube and Facebook one will find an “error” on their screen. 

In spite of the fact that most of China’s people live in poverty and are censored, the Chinese people remain loyal to the government. When asked to give her opinion on China’s Communist party Autumn, my host mother, declared her love and appreciation for the government. She stated, “I really like the government. I think Hu Jintao really loves the people, he cares about everybody.” Fearing her response, I decided to challenge her statement and said, “Well, the government seems to be doing certain things such as creating a large amount of pollution that could be deadly to the Chinese people.” She took a pause to collect her thoughts and said “they are trying to fix that.”

In New York

The second part of the exchange club had begun – the New York experience. We were determined to show the Chinese students a good time! Every day was packed with activities that would be enjoyable to foreigners; however, one particular day stands out.   

It was the day before the Chinese students were going back to China, the night before Manny, my Chinese sister, was really into American films so I offered to take her out to the movies. We found ourselves in 34th and bought two movie tickets to see Something Borrowed. The movie didn’t start for another two hours so we decided to go shopping first. She wanted to buy makeup for her mother so I took her to Sephora where an employee proceeded to help her. She then said she wanted to buy some shoes for herself and a tie for her father so we went to Macys. After the shopping we went to go see the movie, and while she didn’t understand some of the jokes she seemed to be amused by the leading man.

After the Movies we headed over to Michael’s barbeque. Almost everyone was there, the six American students, the five Chinese students, some of the parents, Minna, Ms.McMurdo, and Ms.Larson (Ms.Lo was there in spirit). A lot of amazing food was served, and the music was playing. We all gathered in the living room and danced merengue, bachata, salsa, and disco together. We then broke out into different activities, some of us played cards, and some played monkey in the middle, we were all having a blast – but then the idea that the experience was coming to an end rushed in.  The Chinese and American students decided to go into Michael’s room and talk, for the last time. We told each other our favorite parts of the experience and how close we felt to one another, we joked around, made a few love matches, and realized how lucky we were to be in the position that we were all in.


New York

So we’ve finally arrived to our own city. The Big Apple! Now we only had one week to catch up on or rest and sleeping, oh and homework too. Then the students came to New York. This is where the fun began for the second time. 

After we picked them up at the airport we separated. We took Peter to eat, since he was more hungry than tired. We ate the usual, rice, beans, chicken and beef. We let him try both beef and chicken. He surprised us by bringing some more tea that the father always made. Since it was late we didn’t do much, especially with him almost knocking out. This time it was my turn to take care and lookout for Peter. It was funny how we really did grow a bond as brothers. We kept playing jokes and pranks on each other. We kind of figured out the each other’s secret. And we talked like we were brothers. I guess all that time being together and having each other’s back made this possible. We went to go buy some souvenirs. He bought like one or two things the first time. The parents thought it would be good to take them out to a restaurant together.   So we all went to Olive Garden.  There was two funny things I noticed. One was that my father was sitting on one the end side of the table and I was sitting on the other side. Second was that it was funny seeing the Chinese Students eating. They couldn’t eat their beef because it was hard for them to cut it. They were also a bit more relaxed and laid back than in China. The next few days the teacher took us all out to some sights and to eat at a restaurant.  Peter kept asking when we would eat at home again. But to his surprise we took him to visit one of my aunts. There we ate some rice, lentils, and some other style of beef. He loved it. My aunt and uncle were very happy. They then gave him a present. This reminded me of when I went to Peter’s grandparents. I started to realize that I missed them all. 

Another thing was how popular the students were at school. They were always asking about Peter. Even after they left. Peter told me this is how it was when I was in china too. It was fun having him. But he didn’t like going to sleep late or sleeping late either. Then came the last days. We gave him some gifts to take home to the family and his friends and for himself too. He really liked it all. It was the least I could for the same way they took care of me. I miss those guys. We all became one big family, but we were closer back then than now. But we are still close, it’s just that time keeps interfering. I still keep on touch with peter emailing and on QQ


Home in New York

During the time that Tim, the student i was hosting who stood in my house i was a bit unsure about how things were going to happen. But it all turned out to be great. I say this because while I was hosting I had a lot of time to spend with him and to teach him a little bit about my culture and american culture. 

The first night he arrived to the U.S. my parents, my friend, and I took Tim to a Dominican restaurant to show him that we welcome him to our home and to have him eat because my parents weren't really in the mood for cooking. The second day I took Tim to the park in front of my building to play some american basketball with my stepfather,two friends of mine, some random people in the park, and I. From the looks of it I think he really enjoyed basketball at the park because of two reasons, one because basketball is his favorite sport and two because I think he saw the differences of basketball here in America then the one in China. The rest of the time while he was in my home we went out to eat dinner at restaurants and to take the Chinese people out to see and explore New York. During the first week the Chinese people had a trip to Washington D.C. where they visited the Niagara Falls. When they returned we kept them busy every day by visiting restaurants and each others homes to get to know each other more and just have fun while hanging out together. I really enjoyed having Tim staying over at my home, and if i were to ever get another chance to do it I would do it again!


Overview of Hosting

At the beginning of meeting my host student I was very excited and ready for the new experience. My China trip was still a fresh memory but I was still tired. After a day or two, I noticed Lucy didn’t really want to try new food, or go anywhere. She just wanted to shop.

My family was really welcoming and we worked together to keep Lucy comfortable. I wished her and the Chinese kids would’ve taken more advantage of this experience and would’ve tried all foods, with no excuses and no faces.

I really enjoyed the times everyone spent together, at times we really bonded and many laughs. This experience really made me see the differences between cultures, the aways Lucy and the Chinese kids were raised, and their different personalities compared to us.

Hosting someone was really hard and it was nearly impossible to keep up with homework, but I don’t regret the experience. I’m glad that everyone bonded like a family and I think that’s the best thing the American kids wanted. We just wished our host brothers and sisters were more open to new things. I also wished Lucy would’ve been more social with me.

I think it would’ve been nice if we went to trips with the kids like Empire State building and Bronx Zoo. Hopefully the Chinese kids stay in touch! And the Americans’ bond doesn’t change. I enjoyed the things I told Lucy about the city, and learned stuff I didn’t even know. I hope she listened and will never forget what she learned and saw to compare and contrast China and New York. 


Educational Exchange at Nanjing Foreign Language Academy

In a lot of ways, our week in Nanjing was the most transformative and engaging part of the trip--and not just because the teachers got a break from the students! =) During this week, our Marble Hill students stayed with a Chinese host family, allowing them to interact with Chinese life in a way that tourists never really can. Sending them off to their families for the weekend as a little bit like saying goodbye to our kids, though! How weird not to see them for two days...

Our first morning reunited was fun--it basically entailed the kids comparing notes on what each house had and what they'd eaten for breakfast, and they quickly realized that there's just as much variety among Chinese households as there is among American. After fueling up in the school cafeteria, they were off to classes to see what Chinese school is really like. Let's just say we heard a lot of "the teachers talk the whole time!", "they have way too much homework", and "can we have 10-minute cookie breaks, too?"

Eventually, we settled into a routine of attending the cultural classes Nanjing Academy prepared for us: Wushu (martial arts), calligraphy, pottery, bamboo dance, and ping pong! We pretty much discovered that Keyla has a secret Chinese gene and is good at everything.

Of course, we couldn't miss the sightseeing spots in Nanjing either. We hit up...

 Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall (where the father of China himself is buried)

 The Nanjing Massacre Museum 
(commemorating the suffering caused by the Japanese attack on Nanjing in 1937)

 Confucius Temple Area 
(there is a temple there, but really, it just seemed like the place to shop and hang out)

We also had our bonding moments with the group, including hot pot, karaoke, and some kind of traditional Nanjing style small dish meal (there were 16 tiny bowls for each of us), during which Tim and Michael raced to see who could eat the most duck blood pudding.

It's amazing to see that teenagers from such different cultures can bond so quickly! I guess young people share certain qualities and concerns the world round. Throughout our whole experience, Ms Lo and I remained very impressed with our own students' curiosity, patience, and maturity in each new encounter with Chinese culture. They were as adventurous as we could hope them to be and fearless in trying such new things as frog legs and fish eyes. They really understood why we encouraged them to mingle with the Chinese students instead of forming their own little American clique and displayed impressive leadership in doing so. Go Marble Hillians! As for us teachers, this was a rare and wonderful opportunity to see our students grow right before our eyes.

Ms. M

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Life in Nanjing

Peter picked me up with his uncle. We went to his grandparents’ house who were preparing a meal for me. Homemade cChinese dumplings! So before the food was ready, Peter and I walked around a bit. I met their 4-month-old dog, Chocolate. During our walk I learned a lot about Peter.. After our walk, our meal was ready. I was glad that for breakfast I shared some noodles from Alex, because I had A LOT of dumplings in my bowl. I also had spicy lamb leg. It was big, but delicious. The family smiled ad said I knew how to use the chopsticks very well. They found out I loved beef and pork. After lunch, we went home. Peter’s mom is a teacher and his dad was in the army and is now a professor for the army. Peter’s mom took me to Sun Yatsen’s coffin and mausoleum. We took lots of pictures and then walked around. I learned more about Peter and what he plans for his future. He admires his grandpa for being a hard worker. When we came back the dad had prepared noodles where were good. Then the dad prepared us tea twenty minutes later. After that we watched some basketball.

On Monday, Peter woke me up at 6am. I got ready quickly, ate breakfast, and brushed my teeth. Breakfast was bread, sausage, egg, apple juice, and ricey water. It was all good. Then we left the house at 6:35. Peter lent me a light jacket because it was kind of chilly. Peter’s dad drove us to school, so we got there early. I met all the students in Peter’s class. They are all so friendly. I ran into Julian and Alex, who came running to say hi. We each went back to class, and Monica and Keyla were in my class as well. We read and observed the class. We got hungry during breaks so a few of our classmates gave me a chocolate cookie, and a cup to drink water from the back of the class.

Well the rest of the week was a blast. We went to school and had our own classes. On Tuesday all of us except Jose and Time, went to get some snacks, which were delicious. We had dinner, karaoke, games, and dances. We all boned closer to our host families. Peter’s parents were great, they loved that I ate a lot and drank a lot of tea. I played ping-pong a lot, I got better especially since I don’t play it much. At home we have an independent schedule, from when we left to school, to whatever goes on until it’s time to sleep. On Saturday I went on a motorcycle to a dinner with Peter, Tim, Jose, and John. I was the only one who clapped and talked to the server. I had a great time. The family gave me some gifts. I’m wearing one right now! I wish I could go back with the same people.


Homestay in Nanjing

My arrival in Nanjing after a 17 hour train ride, I started to feel nervous to meet my new family, at the train station. I was greeted by my host sister’s cousin and her dad. I went to her home which was really nice, but I awaited my host sister’s arrival from her weekend classes. Dinners at my host home were very good, and always made by Sophia’s grandparents. Sophia’s parents lived in her hometown because their jobs are there. To get to school every morning, I had to get up at 6am every morning, which I wasn’t used to. Me and Sophia would take a really nice and clean train to school, and went to the Nanjing Foreign Language School. The school was huge, and beautiful. The children were very outgoing, kind, and enjoyed my visit there.

My stay with the host student was very different. The lifestyle wasn’t the same as American living. My student was always studying, and we didn’t spend a lot of time together. She was always on her phone, and talking to her friends. The experience was very different from my home and made me take more advantage of my home in New York and my family. Chinese culture and tradition is very beautiful and different from the US and I definitely saw that in my host home.

My last weekend, I went to Sophia’s home town and met her mom, which was a really good experience. She treated my like another daughter. She maid more attention to me than the daughter! Her house was a beautiful 3-story house with spiral staircases. Her parents took me to a mountain nicknamed “Bamboo Sea” and late in a restaurant that served on wild animals. The next day I went to a factory that showed how they make purple clay tea pots and cups, which is really popular in that area. As a souvenir they mom gave me a purple clay teapot.

Overall this experience with my host family was interesting and different. I learned many new things and it was really a once in a lifetime opportunity. I just wished me and my student would’ve bonded more. 


Living in Nanjing

Living with my host family has been a great experience for many reasons. One of these reasons is because they make me feel right at home. Another reason is because they like to make me feel as if I don’t need to move a muscle because they try to do everything for me, even when I ask them repeatedly not to do everything for me. Time, my host student, has been like a big brother to me, because he’s always looking out for me and he’s always telling funny jokes.
Welcome lunch at Nanjing Foreign Language Academy

Getting mobbed by adoring fans

Learning calligraphy

During most of the time I have spent with my host family, I’ve been busy finishing my schoolwork and reading a book. These were some of the things I did when I wasn’t at school or being entertained by the family. What the family did to keep me entertained was to take me out to a park to play basketball, or they’d put me to watch movies. During one of the days of the week, the family took us to a restaurant where I met some of my host student’s dad and friends.

The food I’ve received from my host family has been some of the most delicious food I’ve ever tasted. Most of the food that I tasted was new and different from what I’ve eaten before. For example, I tried some kind of lamb which to me tasted a lot like chicken. Another new food I tasted was duck, which is something I’ve fallen in love with. I think that real Chinese food is better than American-Chinese food.


A Home in Nanjing

We arrived in Nanjing on a Sunday. There we met our host family, well part of my host family. We got to Nanjing on a train from Xi’an. At the train station, my host sister and mother came to pick me up. As soon as we left, we went to eat pizza hut for lunch. Pizza Hut in China is like an Applebee’s in America, but better. On our ride home I found out many facts about my host sister. Her name is Fanny and she is 15 years old. Her birthday is on August 13th and she lives with her grandarents and mother. Her father also lives with them, but only when he comes home from work in another city.

Once we arrived at their home, I was greeted by the grandparents. I slept in Fanny’s room while she slept with her mother. The rest of the day went smoothly, I took a nap while Fanny finished some homework and then we watched movies together.

The next morning, I went to school with fanny. At her school, school begins at 7:20am and ends at 5:00pm. Each class is 45 minutes long with 10 minute breaks between classes. While in class, the teacher lectures and students are not allowed to ask questions. Teachers back home would really enjoy that. Fanny’s classmates were really friendly. For the rest of the week the school organized specific classes for us: calligraphy, ping pong, martial arts, bamboo dance, kite flying, pottery, etc. Many of these classes were challenging, but fun. We also went sightseeing with the school. We visited Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum, the Nanjing Massacre Museum, and we also toured around the Confucius Temple.

However, the best part of my time in Nanjing was the time spent with my host family. Although my family spoke little English, I felt welcomed and part of the family. I will never forget one of the last conversations I had with my host sister:

Fanny: Only three more days.
Me: Yes, it went by so fast. I wish we had at least a month.
Fanny: No
Me: What do you mean no? Why not?
Fanny: I wish it was a lifetime!


City of Xi'an

The city of Xi’an is definitely a beautiful one. The city has thousands of years of ancient history. The two days we stayed in this city we visited a few different attractions. In our free day we visited the Great Mosque. I really enjoyed visiting this pace because it opened my eyes about the world. Honestly, I really didn’t know there were Chinese Muslims Their mosque was really beautiful, and their architecture had many flowers which shows the impact Islam had. We walked along the markets in the mosque, where some of the poor were begging for money or the people trying to make a few yuan in their small shops, bargaining with the locals and the tourists.

Also in the this day, we visited the ancient drum and bell towers. After we visited Xi’an’s City Wall, the wall that once protected the city like the Great Wall. This wall w rode bicycles on for a while, which was really fun. All of us were racing or helping Michael with his bike. I really felt like I was in China then because bicycling is definitely one of the most essential sources to the Chinese people. They either ride it to get to their job, to school, for leisure, or for whatever reason.

The next day in Xi’an, we visited the terracotta soldiers, which I was really excited for because it’s something in our history books. A farmer found these thousands of soldiers in the 1970s. And ever since then, the city build a museum around it. It is believed to have protected a king in the first dynasty, because his mausoleum wasn’t so far from these soldiers. It was supposed to protect him in the “afterlife.” I couldn’t believe that this was an onsite museum, and the restoration of the soldiers looked well done. The idea of what happened to the soldiers and the secrecy of them really interested me. Archeologists determined that someone tried to burn the soldiers because of the ash found, and they were once protected because of the roof pillars. I really enjoyed seeing the soldiers, something also astonishing was how fast the once “countryside’ of Xi’an where the soldiers were found evolved so fast and became more city-like and touristy.

Overall, I had a lot of fun visiting the historical sites, and the five star hotel was great. The train ride from Xi’an to Nanjing really opened my eyes also because I was able to see the countryside, and people with small houses that were crumbling and abandoned, lots of garbage, many crops, and people working really hard far away from the city.