By John-Paul Erdel |
May 26, 2004
In New Zealand and Australia the Pacific Rim students only watched movies. In China they got to make a movie – a very short one, anyway. That is, five students got to act in one commercial. (They played Americans.) They were each paid 800 yuan, which is more than many Chinese make in an entire month. Feeling generous, the students each gave 100 yuan to their grateful translator. "She was super excited," says James Hogue. "She got 500 yuan out of the deal."
If they keep learning Chinese so well they won't need a translator at all. They have "Chinese tests every other school day now with three-to-four hour classes," says Caleb Hoskins. Kayte Rhynearson is doing especially well. She says that she "aced (literally)" her midterm exam; now she is able to "carry on small and choppy conversations with the random people" she encounters.
Chinese is not the only subject the students learn. They also learn subjects like World Civilizations and Multicultural Literature. And the teachers are impressed. "I hope for a day when we at Bethel have most if not all of our students doing some kind of study abroad before they graduate," says Bethel English scholar Robby Prenkert, who spent one week in China teaching Multicultural Literature to the Pacific Rim group.
Let's not forget science. Erin Olson, a psychology major, got her big break in biology when she took environmental biologist Rhynearson's place in a ten-day biological camping trip in Sichuan. (Rhynearson was unable to go because of a horrible toothache.) On this trip, Olson and Meg Coddington, another true environmental biologist, had to eat chicken foot soup, grass soup, pig's head, bamboo, and raw bread dough in boiled water with runny eggs. They went four days without showering. They trapped and skinned many small animals. (Coddington was used to this but Olson wasn't.) The temperature was near freezing. But Olson still thought it was a valuable experience because, she says, "When you step out of your comfort zone you are able to experience so many neat things."
On March 26 the group went to Xi'an. "Xi'an has the Terracotta Warriors which I thought was one of the seven ancient wonders, but while researching on the internet I discovered that it wasn't," says Kristen Howard. Howard may have been fortunate to get on the internet at all. Rhynearson says that she only gets "an hour at a time here and most of that hour is waiting for my page to load." There is "no being an internet junkie here." That's just as well, because as Sarah Narmore says, "we only have about four weeks left here. I'm trying to cram in so much, but my studies keep interfering, dagnabit."