Dumplings, Quesadillas and More!

July 1, 2014

Today was dumpling day for the Chinese Academy! Instead of the usual Cultural Exploration class, students had the opportunity to learn how to make authentic Chinese dumplings from their tai chi teacher. As a group, we all learned how to make the dough, chop and mix the fillings (today we had meat and vegetarian dumpling options), fill the dumplings and how to steam them. But the best part was at the end when we got to enjoy the fruits of our labor and eat all the dumplings - all 1,800 of them! They were so tasty that there wasn’t a dumpling in sight after class ended.

Last night teachers reminded students of the importance of the Language Pledge. Students learned useful Chinese expressions today in morning assembly that we have already heard them using! Instead of saying “OMG” and  “like,” students now say “哎呀(ai ya)”or “我的天啊(wo de tian a).” They even pronounce it with just the right amount of eye rolling and shoulder shrugging needed!

All the students are busy in class learning more and more Chinese, and class time is filled with writing essays, learning vocabulary and presenting classwork. It truly is amazing to see the improvement the students are making. Just one week ago, some students struggled saying hello: “你好 (ni hao).” Now they are having conversations with their peers, mentors, and even teachers! There is still much to be learned, and I know I am truly excited to see how much these students can learn in these short four weeks.

-Leigh, Chinese Academy RA

Students in the Spanish Academy’s cooking cultural exploration class went back to the basics today, learning how to make quesadillas and adding in the “pico degallo” (traditional Mexican salsa) that they prepared yesterday. The results were fun and flavorful, though we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see how the flan that they prepared turns out. During activities time, a group of students went shopping in Poultney and decided to get ingredients to give their cooking a special twist. This is reflective of where many students are in their language learning process now that we are starting the second week of the Academy; they have been given all the necessary ingredients, have gotten comfortable with the basics, and now is the time for them to really start experimenting and see what they can do with what they already know. I’m sure Chris will find something interesting to go with the pineapple that he bought!

- Gabriel, Spanish Academy DH

Today began just like any other day: breakfast, morning assembly and class. In contrast to last week, students are now allowed to come to breakfast any time between 7:45 and 8:45 instead of arriving with their living groups as soon as breakfast starts. This made for a much more relaxed morning routine and a shorter line for the homemade pancakes.

At morning assembly they listened to German music and played a popular tag-like game called “The Blog” or “The Klecks”. Following class and lunch, students attended Cultural Exploration, where they learned about the soccer World Cup and the German tradition of outdoor, public-space grilling in the park with friends and family. Activity hour centered around Fußball. The students sat down to watch the first half of the Germany-Algeria game. Ever since the students arrived a week and a half ago (has it really been that long? wow!), it seems as though we’ve developed quite the soccer fever, especially for the German national team.

Activity hour was followed by free time (or “Freizeit”), which then led into two hours of practicing and performing skits for the whole academy. After watching the skits last night, it is obvious how quickly each student is developing their German language skills. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

-Hannah, German Academy DH

The beginning of the second academic week was a hot one. We began by trying to shake off some of those Monday blues with morning aerobics in our cool, air-conditioned assembly space along with the introduction of the serialized film “Mystère à MMLA” (“Mystery at MMLA”), which piqued both students’ curiosity and allowed them to practice their language skills. Students then had their regularly-scheduled class time, during which some of them began to prepare for the evening assembly presentations.

To beat the heat, many students elected to stay in the common room for their afternoon activity, reading French books such as Harry Potter, classic texts like Albert Camus’ L’Etranger (The Stranger) and even the comic Tintin. Those who didn’t read played “Allez, poisson!” (“Go, fish!”–a name they themselves translated) or Jenga. Many older students took advantage of the opportunity to head into town to buy supplies at Shaw’s, dip into the Café Patienza or get a treat at Stewart’s Ice Cream Shop. Délicieux!

The evening assembly proved as entertaining as ever. We saw sketches about various allergies and their symptoms (watch out for the plaques rouges: red splotches!) and participated in a cinematic trivia session during which we learned all kinds of facts about American and French cinema. The assembly closed with the unveiling of the song everyone will learn and sing for the World Expo next week, an adaptation of the French’s World Cup chant: “Tous ensemble pour parler” (“All Together to Speak”). Finally, everyone returned home tired, worn out, and ready to hit the hay. But not before spending a good 15 minutes leading an open dialogue about how we can all help each other improve in French - ça me touche au coeur (it touches my heart).

-Matt, French Academy RA