University of Vermont

Sharing Tea and Culture at Long Trail School

Visiting Scholar Duan reflects on sharing Chinese culture with students at her host school

Visiting Scholar Duan at Long Trail School

In the fall of 2012, Visiting Scholar Duan began her six month placement at Long Trail School, "a beautiful school surrounded with colorful sycamores", where she shared her language and culture with the students. Popular lessons amongst the students included being able to cook a wide variety of Chinese cuisine. Jiaozi, which is a Chinese dumpling, is the most popular food in China, became a very popular food in LTS. "Thirteen students finished eighty Jiaozi!" expressed Duan with joy, noting that the students did share the snack with friends and teachers.

Certain lesson plans offered at LTS were based on family traditions, such as the cooking class that focused on creating Fried Brassica Chinensis with mushrooms, a recipe that Duan learned from her mother-in-law. “I think she would be proud of me,” said Duan, thinking about how her mother-in-law would be pleased that she shared the recipe with the students at LTS. The students, who found the recipe both delicious and easy, “promised to cook it for their parents sometime.”

An unexpected surprise came during Duan’s lesson plan on the teas from China. “The students wanted ti be the first to tell me what kind of tea they have at their house,” said Duan. Although tea is becoming very popular in American culture, the students were still eager to try the different teas that Duan brought from China. The bold flavors of the five Chinese teas that Duan offered the students were different from familiar American flavors of teas, but many of the students enjoyed the flower tea. The lesson plan was also an opportunity for the students to see an authentic Chinese tea serving set, and learn about the culture of tea in China.

Other lessons included paper folding, an art form that Duan is very fond of, and Chinese painting and brush writing.”They are very interested in crafts.”  As a Visiting Scholar working with American students, Duan was very impressed at how creative the students were in these lesson plans. Students were soon making bouquets of flowers using the traditional paper folding technique and with recycled plastic bottles.

During her last lesson at Long Trail School, Duan was able to share a presentation with their entire school. “I appreciate that the teachers gave me the chance to show my beautiful hometown, charming landscapes and minorities costumes with the school.”