Mid-program comments, by Tom Hodgson

We got some good responses all around and on all accounts in answer to the questions on our mid-program evaluation. Lixia has promised to translate from the Chinese. We will hand along all responses to the midterm and to  the final evals when we return. Good to remember that we’ve been at this, intensely, and on the fly for only two weeks. Our colleagues fully approve what is happening, and are enthusiastic about the prospect of offering more of their expertise to the classroom. We are working with this successfully, but you can imagine that it requires extra conversations and many adjustments to curricula, especially for the science piece.

For all but  one of  the students from China, this is a totally new experience, and all their comments reflect a deep and even moving appreciation for all aspects of what is taking place. For our students, much is new, but some things – small, discussion-based classes, sports, and field trips – are not new,  and the integration of the subjects should be most evident as they engage with the case study challenge and its aftermath. For a few of the more science and academically oriented of our students,  and for Willa, the language differences as they affect level of comprehension and pace of learning, and the differences in the ages of the students from our two countries have noticeably and unavoidably somewhat reduced our ability to do high level environmental science.  But the compensating factors are real and increasingly prized. What coherence we have been able to engineer into the program overall as it has developed- and it is considerable – will also, I suspect, be more evident to them when all is done and said.

Boredom is not even close to an issue! If anything, the students all feel fully engaged, delighted, and stretched to the limit in every way for whaich one could reasonably hope. They were thoughtful on the evals, but I wouldn’t expect day-to-day blogging, even if shared, to reflect more than brief comments on what they decide to report they remember at the time they sit down to write. I am glad there is interest, but the PR piece will need to be kept in perspective. We will do what we can with the virtual, consistent with keeping the actual in the best possible shape. I promise you will have plenty to satisfy your curiosity about the various kinds and levels of learning that are taking place when we return. I counsel patience.

We began the day with a presentation by me on Naxi culture, and by Yan on Da Li and Li Jiang. Environmental themes surfaced everywhere. The bus ride and visit to the Lufeng Dinosaur park went well, and the bus ride, surrounded by mountain majesty, and dinner and check-in in the pouring rain were all cheerfully experienced. Tonight we explore the old town of Da Li, and our students begin the new era of language/culture partner roommates. Tomorrow,  off to Li Jiang!

Tom

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