A culture unlocked

China Roundtable of Washington Landon School

Ari '18 wrote this blog about what he learned and experienced at the China Roundtable of Washington, which Landon hosts annually. (Ari is pictured above second from left with Omar '19, Syed '18, Roundtable speakers Dan McCandless and Jim Wilson, Headmaster Jim Neill, academic advisor Xiaohong Yang Herrle, and Confucius Institute of UMD coordinator Rebecca McGinnis.)

To mark the beginning of the year of the rooster, Landon hosted the annual China Roundtable of Washington January 29. The student-run cultural-immersion seminar highlights China and U.S. relations and seeks to create a greater understanding of Chinese culture through guest speakers and performances by visiting Chinese students from Landon's Chinese Scholastic Exchange Program.

This year's speakers, Mr. Jim Wilson, a Foreign Service officer at the U.S. State Department, and Mr. Dan McCandless, a desk officer within the China Economic Unit of the U.S. State Department, provided stories of how they learned Chinese and use it in their daily lives and their careers. This was particularly inspiring to me as a Chinese student because the speakers demonstrated the rewards of communicating with another culture and being able to access knowledge and people that had been previously isolated.

Jim Wilson China Roundtable

Wilson related his experience working as a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and focused primarily upon the differences between Chinese and American cultures when trying to "get things done." In addition, he described learning Chinese at Johns Hopkins University and related how living in China compelled him to use and develop his Chinese. He urged those in the audience who are learning Chinese to continue to do so and to pursue immersion programs as a means to this end.

Mr. McCandless studied Chinese in college and, since graduating in 2009, has worked in the Foreign Service in Chengdu, China, and in other posts around the world. He shared anecdotes about his time abroad, including the tale of how he mistakenly ordered 100 dumplings instead of 10 when he was learning Chinese. Additionally, he described China's current economic state and delved into the reasons behind the decreasing growth rate of the world's second largest economy.

China Roundtable 2017 Landon School

The Roundtable also featured Chinese cultural presentations, including three different dance solos: 花儿为什么这样红 ("Why Are Flowers So Red"), performed by He Jixuan (何佶轩), a K-pop dance by Li Muyao (李慕遥), and a traditional Chinese dance solo titled 广陵散 ("Guang Ling San") by Feng Ruilin (冯瑞琳). Exchange students Huang Ziqi (黄子琪) and Tian Zili (田子立) performed piano solos titled 北风吹 ("Bei Feng Chui") and 茉莉花 ("Jasmine Flowers"), respectively. The Roundtable closed with a tai chi (太极拳) performance by five Chinese exchange students: Fu Zecheng (傅则成), Hua Siqi (华思齐), Wu Hanyan (吴涵嫣), Zhang Jiaqi (张家齐) and Zhang Shijie (张世颉).

China Roundtable tai chi

Landon senior Michael Dziak '17 was president of this year's China Roundtable, and junior Syed Aal-e-Ali '18 was vice president. Upper School Chinese teacher Ms. Xiaohong Yang Herrle, founder of Landon's Chinese program, served as the Roundtable's academic advisor, as she has since its inception.

Landon School Chinese Scholastic Exchange Program

Just as the Roundtable provided members of our community an opportunity to learn about China, Landon's Chinese Scholastic Exchange Program gives visiting students from Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu the chance to immerse themselves in the American language and culture. During their two-week stay here, the Chinese students lived with Landon and Holton-Arms families, attended classes with their American counterparts, toured the National Mall and U.S. Capitol, and so much more. It was a great way to bring our two cultures together.