From June 23 to July 13 this summer, four students from the University of Ottawa will travel to Tsinghua University in Beijing to help students learn English, as part of an agreement signed between the Centre for Global and Community Engagement of the University of Ottawa and the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures of Tsinghua University. Often considered the “MIT or Harvard of China,” this prestigious university promotes exchanges between Chinese and Western cultures in the instruction it offers its some 25,000 students.
As part of the international vision it endorses, Tsinghua University calls on volunteers from around the globe who are interested in sharing their knowledge and teaching skills to participate in an English-teaching summer camp.
University of Ottawa students Betsy Leimbigler, Adam Pennell, Ian McMillan and Rachael Mortimer are among the 110 foreign volunteers heading to the Tsinghua campus this summer.
“These volunteers are the University of Ottawa’s first group of ‘cultural ambassadors’ to China’s Tsinghua University,” says professor Sheri Zhang, who has also played a key role in organizing this project. “The University of Ottawa is a pioneer—the very first Canadian university in this joint program with Tsinghua University. This provides a good opportunity for the students to learn about China, collect research data in China and introduce Canada to China. In compliance with the University’s Vision 20/20, my colleagues and I are looking forward to a closer tie with China for developing international teaching and research opportunities and cooperative projects.”
The goal of this project, organized by Tsinghua University, is to spark interest in and enthusiasm for learning English among its students. These intensive courses also allow them to improve their skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking English. To accomplish this, a variety of activities are planned, such as seminars, games, speaking competitions and singing classes.
Hosted by Tsinghua University, the student volunteers will take part in teaching English classes as well as participate in organizing activities for the learners. Before their big departure, the volunteers will attend a workshop designed to educate them on a variety of topics, such as health and safety in China.
“I have a background in international relations and this has been complemented by a long standing fascination with Asia, including its many cultures, foods, languages, and history,” says Adam Pennell, a uOttawa volunteer. “I felt as though this would be an excellent opportunity for me to travel and discover the region while sharing some of my English-language skills to eager Chinese students in the process.”
If you would like to learn more about the 2012 Tsinghua English Summer Camp at Tsinghua University, or if you are looking for a volunteer experience at home or abroad, visit the Centre for Global and Community Engagement website.