Steve Lantos, Coordinator
China Exchange Program
CHINA EXCHANGE , Independent Studies in :
U.H. History (U.S.-China relations) or World History :
Chinese History :
Comparative Literature, American and Chinese
Periods per week : Fall semester, 2 hrs/week
Spring semester, 15 hrs/week
I. Program Description: 8 Brookline High students and a teacher spend the spring semester of the school year at the Gao Xin School in XI’an, China. During the preceding fall semester, students study pre-modern Chinese history and culture in preparation for their four month stay and course of study in China. This syllabus outlines only the academic portion of a very broad and complex year of learning through cultural exchange and home stays in China.
II. Learning objectives (A statement of learning objectives is a statement of changes to take place in students) :
By the completion of this course, the successful student will have learned:
- To understand and explain major events in pre-modern and modern Chinese history;
- To identify and examine recurring motifs and values in modern Chinese literature;
- To connect literature to its historical context;
- To recognize major schools of Chinese thought (such as Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism) and observe their manifestation in Chinese literature and daily life.
- To appreciate and utilize different strategies for understanding and negotiating across cultures- in Chinese classrooms, in host families, in public places and forums.
- To compare thoughtfully and compassionately political, ethical and social differences between China and the United States. To understand rather than judge.
- To acquire a cross-cultural perspective in order to reflect on and reconsider assumptions they have carried, as Americans, about themselves and their place in the world.
III. Learning Experience (A learning experience is the interaction between the learner and the external conditions in the environment to which he/she can react):
In this course the students will:
- Participate in small, focused group discussions based on class reading, journal entries and daily problem solving;
- Write in daily journals
- Make oral presentations on segments of Chinese history; pre-modern and modern;
- Study intensive Chinese language, spoken, written;
- Study Chinese cultural tradition: mythology, philosophy, art, music
- Engage in resourceful independent research which includes,
1. sifting through large amounts of material to locate key points,
2. finding sources within sources by reading the bibliographies and footnotes in books, articles and essays.
3. using library catalogues to find books, periodicals and newspaper articles which span over old and new perspectives,
4. interviewing Americans and Chinese as a vital component of cross-cultural research, and to learn the value of oral histories ( Interviewing is strongly encouraged during the stay in China.
The following books are part of the library at Gao Xin school. It is encouraged that students immerse themselves in this literature to gain a wider understanding of the society they are immersed into.
Jung Chang Wilde Swans (Three daughters in china’s changing society, gov.)
Ba Jin Family (capitalist family in 1920s)
Ha Jin Waiting "Lin Kong graduated from the military medical school toward the end of 1963 and came to Muji to work as a doctor..."
Additional readings from:
Jan Wong Parts of Red China Blue (my long march from Mao to now)
Ma Jian Parts of Red Dust ("Last year, in the spring of 1981, my work unit moved me from the staff dormitory block to a small house in Nanxiao Lane...")
Ding Ling 20th century short stories
Lu Xin 20th century short stories“China’s Avant Gardists
China in the World since 1644 (Primary Source 2009)
Gao XinJjian Soul Mountain
Amy Tan The joy luck club
Maxine Hiong Kingstone Woman Warrior
Adeline Yen Mah Falling Leaves
Marc Salzman Iron and Silk
Hessler Peter River Town: Two years on the Yangtze
Dream of Red Chambers Vol. 1&2
Gish Jen, Who’s Irish?
Zhang and Song, Chinese Lives (oral stories)
Confucius The Analects (Penguin Edition)
La Tzu Tao Te Ching (Penguin Edition)
Chuang-tzu’s Inner Chapters
Buddhism in Translation
Edgar Snow Red Star over China
Liang Heng Son of the Revolution
DeBary Sources of Chinese Tradition