Beginning Chinese — Lesson 2: Taking on a Chinese Identity and Expertise on Designing a Modern China
In the first half of the class:
Ms. Whitney researched each of our ambassador's first names to find the Chinese equivalent. However, it is not a simple translation of the English letters that make up our name to the corresponding Chinese characters that an online translator could provide. Instead, Chinese names represent a trait, a metaphysical quality, that goes beyond just giving you an identity for others to address you as. Names symbolize qualities like trust, strength, and wisdom. Each of our ambassadors were given a unique name that correlates to the traits he or she possesses that help our program be a community of talented students, each bringing something special. By embracing our new identities for the summer program, the interactions between Wuxi students and SOS ambassadors will enrich the once in a lifetime opportunity this travel experience will bring, and open new perspectives to how we all live our lives here on planet Earth.
In the second half of the class:
Our students heard a presentation delivered by two guest speakers that explained, through first-hand knowledge, the designing of a modern China that maintains traditional heritage, because they are helping build it. Global architects, Mr. James Andrews, and Ms. Yanjing Chen, representing the company, Overland Partners, gave insight to our ambassadors how China is remodeling their infrastructure and foundation by bringing their country to the twenty-first century in design. Mr. Andrews shared his story and personal interest in helping China rebuild their cities through photos and fascinating narrative. As one of the few western architects privileged enough to participate with multiple teams of Chinese leaders tasked with designing entire city blueprints, Mr. Andrews and his assistant provided a unique perspective on the globalization taking place right now between countries.
The ambassadors got to hear about amazing projects Mr. Andrews and Ms. Chen have been apart of, but the take away message Overland Partners wanted to share with SOS is the importance of friendship and trust among the Chinese. Mr. Andrews gives credit for the partnership his company and China share to the personal connections he has made over the years.
With the aid of Ms. Whitney's Chinese culture classes, and Mr. Andrew's message to our ambassadors to travel their with open-minds and embrace the new friendships SOS will make, our China program is well underway to help change lives for all those participating and continue to have our community grow beyond just San Antonio.
If you are interested in Overland Partners, or would like to learn more information about the architect, Mr. James Andrews, please visit their website at,
Did you know that Horse-Horse-Tiger-Tiger, is translated into, Mǎ Mǎ Hǔ Hǔ? Of course, the literal translation would not help you speak about two horses and two tigers with someone who speaks Chinese, but instead literally means, "so-so," to tell someone how your day is going. Okay so it is obvious that English is totally different than Chinese both in written and verbal communication. The pronouncing "four" in English is the sound quantitative to mean four units of something. However, uttering "four" to a Chinese person will have them thinking you are referring to death and this is considered impolite. The difference between our two worlds is like the polar opposite charges of subatomic particles. Literally the difference is black and white. Americans use white to celebrate weddings, baby showers, and black to give condolences to the deceased, however in China, white is used for respecting the dead, and black reflects life itself.
In order to appreciate such a drastically different culture, Summer of Service is providing the student ambassadors Chinese Lessons written and facilitated by Elizabeth Whitney, the Chinese Adept coming along to guide us on our trip. The first lesson covered the following topics: