DiverseCity

Students Experience Chinese Culture Without Leaving Houston

Chinese Community Center organizes Asian culture days for Houston area schools.

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Students learn how to make origami, the art of Chinese paper folding.

Students at the Houston Academy for International Studies, a charter school within the Houston Independent School District, do get more exposure to foreign cultures than other schools.

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Sophia Baltz, Chinese teacher at Houston Academy for International Studies, shows students how to play table tennis.

But even for them, today is different.

About 60 of them are on a field trip to the Chinese Community Center, in the heart of Chinatown in southwest Houston.

Nine-Min Cheng, principal at the center’s Chinese School, said she always gives visiting schools a list of subjects and activities.

For the Houston Academy, Cheng said, the activities focused on origami, table tennis and Shaolin Kung Fu.

Students also learned about the history of Taiwan, yoyo and were served a Chinese lunch.

Folami Mack is taking a Chinese class at school, but today’s exposure to Chinese culture is new to her.

“Usually you don’t really come in contact with it every day,” she said. “It’s not an everyday thing. So, when I came somewhere where you’re just surrounded by it, you know, it was a different experience.”

Sophia Baltz is the Chinese language teacher at Houston Academy for International Studies. She said her students frequently go on field trips related to Chinese language and culture. But this trip also includes students who don’t take her class.

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Master Shi Xing Ying gives students a lesson in Shaolin Kung Fu at the Chinese Community Center.

“I just want them to be able to open their mind and enjoy the food, enjoy the activity and then learn about other cultures, too,” she said. “And for people who learn Chinese, to be able to use their language.”

Patrick Harris isn’t learning Chinese. But he said this trip wasn’t the first time he has learned about the Chinese culture.

“Not my first, but the best,” he said. “This is my favorite one.”

He said the day left him more interested in China and its culture.

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Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

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