International Travels & Services

Artistic Bridge & Multiculturalism -- Shirley's US Travel Diary -070 & 321st Friendly Greeting,Oct 2, 2011

How are you?

It is Oct 1 in America and Oct 2 in China. I have completed my 10 days’travel (includes the 2 days on the road) in USA and come back Shenzhen, China. Before I fly to Beijing to continue my study as a Chinese painting graduate student in Chinese National Academy of Arts, I would like to share something with you and hope to bring you a big smile.

Can you imagine how many free Chinese painting demonstrations I did in the last 3 days before I left for China? 18 times in 6 public schools, included 1 high school, 3 middle schools and 2 elementary schools. Because my time was too tight, I could not go to another 4 schools that had invited me.

If saying that I was touched mainly by the advanced American education system and its teachers who are working hard in my first two days’work; then, I was impression more on the functions of arts and the multiculturalism in America in my last day. I did feel:

-- Art may be one of the best bridges and tools of communication among the different cultures. Multi ? arts or comprehensive art should be able to help people to understand the other art or culture naturally and easily ? This is one of my views in the 2011 Kentucky World Language Conference, now I make sure about it much more.

-- Multiculturalism of America may be one of the main characteristic of this nation? The perfect melting of the different cultures in the country may be one of the main powers to push America became the strongest country in the world in the shortest time?

Friday morning, an American - Chinese elementary school teacher Mrs. Li Shanshan, who is also a part time doctoral student picked up me from my hotel, after a quick preparative, we had 2 demonstrations in her school. Since there were more than 100 students, instead of working in the art classroom, we worked in the hall and there were few students who were appointed by their teachers could paint in person. Therefore, some of the other students asked me to allow them to paint with me together, so, as long as there was a little place, I held their hands and taught them to paint. Among them, I was impression on a little girl who is 8 or 9 age, after I helped her complete her first Chinese painting -- some flowers, she was so excited that she was unwilling to leave, just like a daughter, she hugged me, took a photo with me and expressed so much friendly emotions to me... after she finally went to her classroom, her teacher told me that she did surprise that the girl was so interested in painting and be able to paint a so nice flowers since she was a little bit difficult on some other lessons.

As soon as we finished the jobs in the first elementary school, I was picked up by another American- Chinese teacher Mrs. Chen Hong, who was an English instructor in a university, to go to her place -- Dixie Magnet Elementary School.

The first person we met in the schoolyard was Mrs. Wang Yan -- the President of Kentucky Chinese Teacher Association. She has been a Russian Language Professor when she was just 30 years old in China, now she is one of the perfect teachers in her current school’s Honor Roll and my new friend that I have known for 1 week.

As soon as I went into the gate of the school with Mrs. Wang Yan and Mrs. Chen Hong together, I felt something warmer, in order and different. The Art teacher of the school Ms. Rachel Losch, who has worked in the school for 18 years, came to me to say Hello and introduced her self; a few friendly parents of the local American students picked up my bags and helped us to hang up the paintings. Mrs. Wang and Mrs. Chen discussed how to work in the hall quickly, and then they arranged me to have my lunch that Mrs. Li Shanshan had bought for me in the teachers’rest room.

As usual, I got the friendly greeting in Chinese before I started to work. Then, I felt something so surprised when I was singing the poems in my paintings, I heard some beautiful harmony in the hall, it was soft, wonderful and harmonious with my own melody, so that I could not help smiling where I was looking for where the sounds came from... Can you imagine? It was from a little boy who was only 7 or 8 years old. He sat in the first line, looked at me with a pair of lovely blue or green eyes, it was him to ask me some questions when I was talking, then it was him to tell me with an excitedly emotion " I was helping you to sing..." when he left from me in the line... I was touched at that time, so that tears almost dropped from my eyes. It was a pity that my time was too tight to take a photo with him together, even, I did not see clear his face and I did not know his name yet, just I remember that he is a native American boy with a lovely face and smart eyes...

From the warm and spontaneous applause from these so young, so lovely and so pure children who have white or black skin, with golden or brown or black hair, speak English or the other languages and from the other cultures, I did feel a perfect melting of the Western and Eastern cultures in this school ? Dixie Magnet Elementary School.

Meanwhile, I did also feel the natural strength of arts in the communication among different cultures. When I was working on Chinese paintings, the poem in the painting was helping my young readers to understand the meaning of the picture; the music was helping them to feel the emotion of the artist. Even though they were so young, they have known something about Chinese language and Chinese culture via looking at the painting, listening to the music... During this process, I did have seen how the sister arts could support, help and inspirit each other, I have really had some new understanding about how Art is the best bridge to open the windows of souls of human being and to help us to understand each other, to go together and to create a greater and more beautiful world together...

At that time, I did feel whole of the tiredness and ache somewhere on my body has gone, it was full of the happiness in my heart indeed.

Then, after my work was finished in the last school, Ms. Tara Isaace -- the headmaster of the school went to the hall to meet me and thanked me for my work in her school. With many friendly smiles, had a photo with me together (She is the lady in the red coat in the first photo, the lady in the green sweater is Mrs. Wang Yan, the lady in the blue clothes is Ms. Rachel Losch, the lady in the red and white clothes is Mrs. Chen Hong ). In the short talking with her, I felt not only she has paid more attention to help her students to learn from the other cultures, but also, she has supported a foreign language project in her school. Just for her good supported and direction, before one day of my demonstrations, they had a meeting, divided the work and invited their students’ parents to help us, during the process, I did feel the equal among the Native American teachers and the Chinese language teachers; I did also have seen a part of the reasons why the multiculturalism could be developed in USA, why American nation could be developed fastest in the world...

A great nation is certainly the one which can learn, accept and tolerant those good things from the other cultures with a wide chest...

How do you think of my idea? Do you have anything special to share this week?

Photo Notes: The gentleman in the photo is the art teacher of Leestown middle school; I sent the painting that I created to him as a memory.

The lady in the third photo to the last one is the substitute art teacher of Lexington Tranditional Magnet School, I sent the painting that I created to her as a memory.

The lady in the next photo to the last one is Mrs. Li Shanshan, the teacher of Yates Elementary School in Lexington, I sent this painting to her as a memory.

The lady in the blue clothes in the last photo is the art teacher -- Ms. Rachel Losch, both of us had a good cooperation in the last demonstrations in her school...

This letter will be sent to you from my computer system automatically. If you would not like to get it, please write to me, I will delete your email address from my mail list.

I am just a student on Art of Painting, Music, English and Management, to work on the web site in my free time. I would really like to do a few things with what I have learned to make this little web site to be an Electronic Bridge of Inter-Art & Cross - Culture Exchange, Chinese Language Learning & Friendship Making. To help the others while to improve myself.

I would like to appreciate you for your understanding, directions, supports and help.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, you are welcome to write to or leave your message on Message Board.

Shirley Yiping Zhang
Oct 2, 2011(Chinese Time)

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