Concordia College language camp in China

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Concordia is known for its language camps in Minnesota–but it also has an English language camp in China.

At a two-week summer day camp in Shanghai, China, Minnesota’s Concordia College shares a slice of American life with 32 Chinese students ages 7-14. Under the moniker of Hometown China, students are immersed in English language learning and exposure to American culture. After the Shanghai camp ends on July 27, Concordia’s five language teachers and a businessperson move to Beijing and run a similar camp there in August.

Jennifer Osteen, Dean at Hometown China, describes her experience as a roller coaster – highs from the exuberance of the students and lows from the challenges of living in an unfamiliar city. Parents are very supportive of the program, noted Osteen.

Class activities include celebration of American traditions recreated in the classrooms of a community college in the center of Shanghai. For example, students went shopping at Mall of America for shamrocks on St. Patrick’s Day. Thanksgiving was spent in Hawaii, and camp ends with an award ceremony in Los Angeles.

In the Village Cafe, one of three interest groups in which students participate, they make American snacks and serve to their classmates. On the day that I visited, students were making trail mix. The other interest groups are Village Newspaper, Village Theater and Village Yearbook.

Anna Bellersen, Assistant to the Dean and an instructor at Hometown China, observes that she has grown a lot from this experience. As a teacher, she was forced to be more creative to engage the students, and she learned some Chinese from them. Most important, however, Bellersen reflects that she has become more patient as she figured out how to get by each day.

Hometown China is co-sponsored by IBM for children of IBM’s China employees, and children of IBM’s corporate partners in China.

Concordia College also runs a similar program, Global Language Village, which offers American students the opportunity for immersion in another culture. In GLV’s three week China program, participants tour Beijing for one week and spend the remaining two weeks teaching English to Chinese students at a host school.

Concordia College is a private, coeducational, four-year liberal arts college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America located in Moorhead, MN.

Jennifer Holder is a free-lance writer in the Twin Cities. She taught this summer in a language camp in Hangzhou, and visited the Concordia camp in Shanghai.