Apr.-June 09





Global Exchange Newsletter
October - Dectember 2009

We are glad to present you our 2009 Oct. to Dec. issue Newsletter and hope you enjoy it.

In This Edition:

What is new in Global Exchange?
- Fun skiing tour in winter in Beijing.
- Announcement: first step to establish our Chinese Resource Corner

New Partnership with Think Abroad, LLC,

Current Students Interview
- Margherita Nostro from Italy. It is the third time Margherita takes our programs in Beijing.
- Sven Vandelanotte from Belgian
Connecting with Alumn
- Ms. Rachel Sterrett from USA
- Ms. Nolwenn Hou from French
Get to know Global Exchange
- Our teacher in Europe

Fun skiing tour in winter in Beijing.

Skiing in the winter in Beijing? You may not believe it, but it is true. Even there is not much snow in winter in Beijing but there are a lot of commercial skiing centers that make artificial snow available in suburb of Beijing . So our students may have some outdoor activities and fun during winter time in Beijing. On Dec. 19, John lead a small group of our students, including some from Sweden, Belgium and Swiss, went to Chang Ping Snow World for skiing. The skiing center provides shuttle bus along the Badaling expressway and it takes about one hour and 10 minutes to "Snow World"

It is considered as small skiing center in European standard, just two slide ways. Some of our students felt too easy and not challenging enough. Of course it is enough just for having fun in winter and some outdoor exercises.

Comments from Sven who is from Belgium:

" We went Skiing 1 hour from downtown Beijing. I never thought I would learn how to ski whilst studying in China. The Ski field was made of artificial snow but was still ok I had a lot of fun seeing Chinese people falling over and crashing into other people. I also crashed few times into a few Chinese people. It was a good opportunity to speak some Chinese off the cuff, and made a few new friends. There was also the chance to go snowboarding, but we chose skiing. The most advanced slope in "Ski World" would be considered a beginners slope in Northern Europe. I didn't mind, it was perfect for me and still steep enough to gain a bit of speed before wiping out. After skiing we hiked up to two pagodas which overlooked the ski field. "

Announcement: first step to establish our Chinese Resource Corner:

During their staying in Beijing, no matter in a few weeks or a few months, they not only need productive classroom training and real life experiences, but also need entertainments and relaxed time. For years, many students brought or bought books in Beijing and gave them to us as gifts, to future students when she or he left here. The topics are in wide ranges of subjects and in many different languages.
Our center also has some China related books, in history, economy or cultures. Most of the books are in English. In order to provide our current students the better services, recently we start to organize our students Resource Center systematically. Two sets of bookshelf were placed in office hall and all the books and CD for students are placed there. Our students can feel free to read any books in office. If she or he want to take any book out, she or he only need to take record card of the book out and gives it to student¡¯s advisor, simple process.

New Partnership with Think Abroad, LLC,

In Nov. 2009, we had one special student in our group, Mr. Peter Sims from Chicago, USA. Peter is the head of Think Abroad, a Chicago based customized language travel solutions provider. One of purposes for Peter to be in our programs was to experience in firsthand the qualify of our language training programs and our services. After 2 weeks, He was very positive for our programs and enjoyed Beijing's life very much. That was not only form a solid foundation for our new partnership, but also starting point of our warm friendship in personal level.

Current Students Interview

Name:  Ms. Margherita Nostro
Country from: Italy 
Education: Bachelor in Translation and Interpreting studies
Work history: entertainer, front desk secretary, airport check-in and boarding agent
Languages spoken: Italian, English, French and Chinese
Hobbies: cooking, painting, walking, dancing ¡­

Please tell us a little about your study and work experiences in Italy.

I¡¯ve been studying Interpreting and Translation for three years in Trieste , the second port after Venice on the Adriatic coast, in the north-eastern part of Italy . Last July I obtained my Bachelor in Liason Interpreting and Translation to and from English and French, my mother tongue being Italian. I started studying Chinese by chance and uninterested, for it was not my major and would only be worth some extra points for my final graduation.

As for my work experience, I¡¯ve been au pair in Ireland and France for several times, where I looked after some kids and could train my language skills accordingly. I¡¯ve found it to be an extremely positive experience both because I could get a taste of ¡°what¡¯s in being a mother¡± and because kids are probably the best language teachers I could wish for, so patient and fussy about the way you speak their language.

I have also been front desk secretary as a part-time job for almost a year and occasionally work as a hostess in international business fairs that take place in the north of Italy ¨Cthe wine expo in Verona was one of them.

Shortly after my graduation I could get a job at Venice Airport , where I worked for a short time as a check-in and boarding agent.

You had a major in Italian/French translation in university and have learned Chinese for few years, could you give us some comments on Chinese language learning comparing European languages?

I¡¯ll quote my Chinese professor to answer: ¡°do you know why the IQ of the Asian is generally higher than that of the Western? Because the Asian, when speaking their language (Chinese, Japanese, Korean¡­) move more parts of their brain than the western would do when speaking theirs¡±. I think hear lies the difference, hence the difficulty, of the Western when they start learning an Oriental language. It isn¡¯t really a matter of grammar or structure. It is the lack of alphabet and it¡¯s that a character corresponds to a sound but not vice versa. We are used to learning European languages starting from the ABC, yet when we start with Chinese we have to learn first a kind of ABC, namely pinyin, then the strokes (and God knows how important it is to write them correctly and nicely) and finally we have to put the two things together.

As far as the sounds of Chinese are concerned, many of them can be found in more than one European language, as the IPA grid (International Phonetic Alphabet) shows on the preface/postface of every respectable bilingual dictionary.

Did your time in Chinese program in Beijing help you reach your professional and personal goals?

It definitely enriched and widened the basis I¡¯ve been acquiring in Italy and gave me a reason to keep up with Chinese. I guess the program I¡¯ve been following with Global Exchange may be considered as an asset on my CV.

During your three times in Beijing , you had experiences in host families and also live in dorm this time could you give us some comments and your experiences pro and con of different accommodation options?

Living in a host family is definitely something to try out! I cherish the time I spent with my two host families and I¡¯m still in touch with both: when I¡¯m in Beijing we often happen to meet at weekends for a lunch or a dinner together, or simply for a chat. Being a guest in a Chinese family gives you the chance to deep dive into their culture and, if the situation allows it, a new friendship is born. Yet you need to bare in mind that a host family is not a ±ö¹Ý ( hotel ) so if you want a place to stay where you are free to do whatever you want to, you¡¯d better choose the dorm. Rooms are just fine and functional, and have a small bathroom. It¡¯s hard to call ¡°kitchen¡± what is supposed to be a kitchen at each floor but so it is. You can cook, you can, some simple stuff.

You have been in our programs three times in 2007, 2008 and now 2009, tell us what are the most interesting observations people life and city of Beijing during these three years?

I¡¯ve always seen Beijing as a big tourist industry and I¡¯m persuaded that a good percentage of BJ economy relies on tourism. Consequently, the tourist himself is generally treated as a star both for his physical features and for the role he has in BJ. However, the closer to a non-tourist area the more a western is scanned from top to button and feels like an absolute stranger. Get lost in a hutong and you¡¯ll know.
What advice would you give for those thinking of coming here?

Try to feel Chinese. Be careful. Be patient.

Name:  Mr. Sven Vandelanotte
Country from: Belgium
Education:  Hotel school and Wine connaiseur
Work history:  Sous-Chef, Assistent Maitre D' 
Languages spoken:  Flemmisch (Dutch), Englisch, French, German and Chinese 
Hobbies:  Hiking, running and swimming

Could you tell me a little about your international travel experience and your work on cruise ships?

After I graduated from hotel school I started traveling. I spent a few months near Birmingham University, UK to improve my English. I then applied to work on a cruise ship and was successful with my application. I sailed the world for 100 days. I¡¯ve seen many different cultures and places and it was my first experience of China. On the ship I gained a large amount of knowledge about food and not only the European food. I learned about Asian specialties and customs from different cultures. On the ship I was responsible of the service in the restaurants.

As a professional cook, could you give us some comments on the food in Beijing?

In Beijing you have a wide range of international food. Almost every country is represented. Any style, you can find in Beijing. Preparation and serving style is totally different from Western cultures. The menu is full of surprising dishes and Chinese specialties. In China no part of the animal is wasted. Chicken feet are quite common. Everyday is a new adventure and a new discovery. In many cases Chinese dishes taste much better than they look.

What are main reasons for you to decide to come to Beijing to take Chinese course?

I love my job in the catering business but it¡¯s very hard to maintain a good social live in this environment. These lessons are the first step to enroll in the University and to study Chinese. China is fascinating in many ways and is developing very quickly. It makes it the perfect place for a future job and the language is beneficial any where in the world.

Tell us what you have enjoyed most outside of classrooms in Beijing.

The interaction you have with people on the street, the friendly smiles and curious faces on the subway. The warm feeling you receive from Chinese people makes you feel at home. The tours to Great Wall, the skying trip and making dumplings. Were all great fun. But most of all it is the great friends that I have made in China.

What do you find most interesting in Beijing?

The biggest difference is the colorful neon characters you see every where in the street, it creates a nice atmosphere. In Beijing you have a lot of Chinese culture and history. There are many Museums, Special markets and tea-houses to see, and wonderful parks such as the Summer Palace and Beihai Park.

What advise would you give for those thinking of coming here?

Get on the plane RIGHT AWAY. It doesn¡¯t matter if you stay here for 2 weeks or 2 months, you will have a great experience. There is no better place to learn Mandarin, total immersion is the key and there is no escaping it. There are many Chinese students that will help you practice and correct you when you are wrong.

Connecting with Alumni

Rachel Sterrett
From: USA
was in our programs 2008

I am currently living in Zhangye, a small city in Gansu Province, P.R. China. I am an American who came to Gansu in August of 2005 through the Amity Foundation and Church World Service. I graduated from a small college in Wisconsin and received TESL/TEFL training in Vermont prior to my arrival.

Zhangye is a small city, only a few traffic lights and a drum tower, although we have recently started to carry yak butter in the stores, and rye bread in some Aili Bakeries. No "real" cheese or Western pasta, however. I've found the people warm and tremendously curious about foreigners.

Since I have left Beijing, I have moved from my old placement in Lanzhou (the provincial capitol) to Zhangye, but I have stayed in Gansu province. I loved the food too much to ever leave, and the climate, while dry, still has 4 seasons, which I like. I enjoy working in the western parts of China. It is less developed, true, but I find that generally speaking, the students are far more eager to learn (and more respectful overall) than the ones I have met in the eastern parts of China.

The Chinese that I studied in Beijing truly assisted me with my teaching. I was able to communicate more fluently when I returned to Lanzhou after my studies, and that was tremendously helpful in explaining difficult concepts to my students. I think it has also made me more approachable to different folks that I have encountered outside of my work, since I am more able to converse with them.

I don't know if I have very many suggestions. I might suggest that the Center keep a printout of Chinese online resources that alumni might wish to use, such as ChinesePod, or nciku.com. When someone leaves the Center, the paper can be included with their final package, or E-mailed to them for their future research or reference.

I would recommend that a newcomer to the program take advantage of the classes at first, and then move into one-on-one with a tutor. The classes are less intimidating for a beginner, and they provide an opportunity to make connections with other students. However, every learner is different, and eventually they'll need to have one-on-one time with a tutor in order to make greater progress in their Chinese.

I liked connecting with the old students through Facebook before it was blocked. I don't have any other suggestions though.

I really enjoyed my time with Global Exchange, and I'm looking forward to coming back in the winter holiday of 2011 to prepare for my HSK examination!

Ms. Nolwenn Hou
From: French
was in our programs 2008

Tell us a little about your background and what are you doing in your country?
I am a post-graduate student in American litterature and civilization, Grenoble University, France.. I 've been taking intensive chinese class for 3 years, before coming to Beijing. I am a tourist guide, for an exclusive alcohool called "liqueur de Chartreuse", in french, english, spanish and now...chinese !

Tell us more about the city you are in?
I was born in the middle of the mountains, and still live here, in the Alps. Voiron is a small town but well located if you like winter sports, climbing, paragliding, etc... and at the same time, it's not far from biggest cities, like Lyon and Genève (Switzerland).

What have you been doing since left Beijing in our programs?
Well, i came back home 8 months ago, and i'm already planning on flying back to Beijing soon. While i worked as a guide, i tried to keep practising chinese but it's hard to do it on your own. I kept in touch with my chinese teacher and friend, Stephany, and often called my lovely host family.

What effects of your study in China last year on your current career?
Since i came back, my company has asked me to translate the tour in chinese as well as an exhibition. Indeed, many Shanghai and HongKong people visit this alcohol factory, and there are always amazed to find someone who speaks chinese in France.

Today, when you look back your study program and experiences in Beijing, Do you have any suggestions to our center on how to improve our program and to better service to our students?
nothing special, maybe a better internet connection, in school.

Do you have any comments to someone who is considering to take our program in near future?
If you really want to discover a new culture, the best way is to live in a host family. For me, it was the best experience ever. It is sort of complementary with what you learn at school. It's not only about the language, but chinese' habits, food, etc... My host family was so kind-hearted and did everything to make me feel at ease. You will get used to the Beijing accent after one week.

I would also add that coming to China, knowing the basis of chinese language is really helpful.

We are trying to provide more valuable services to all students after they left China such as some online programs to connect them with Chinese students. Do you have any suggestion on how we can connect our alumni better?
except internet, i don't have any other idea.

Any other comments

Get to know Global Exchange

Our teacher in Europe

Rosemary Wang, our senior instructor and director in our center, would like to share some of her impressions and photos for her recent Europeans trip including the tours in Italy, Swiss and France.

I had nice trip to Italy, Swiss and France early December this year. I was very impressed by beautiful cultures and ancient architectures in Rome, Florence and Venice. One of memorable experiences was the glass-blowing display on Murano in Venice. A piece of red hot glass became a lively horse in a few seconds in the hands of craftsman. It was lovely to see the pigeon and wild duck walking freely around in the street along with people. When I saw the wood cottage on the middle of hill with snow mountains beautiful lake fresh air, I realized that Swiss was really a fairy-tales country. When we arrived in Paris, it was so near Christmas so we saw the beautiful Christmas decoration and holidays atmosphere everywhere. I was surprised and warmed up when I saw there are many Chinese speaking attendants in the shopping centers. Paris is well known for its arts. I had an interesting experiences that I saw an artist near Seine River and he asked me if I like to be his model for a few minutes. Yes I say yes due to Curiosity, just two or three minutes, my profile was here, can you believe that? Is it looklike me? (I have this picture displayed on the top in this section.) By Rosemary Wang