For starters, its history goes back many centuries, and the United States is an infant by comparison. Its languages bear absolutely no resemblance to the West Germanic languages that I am familiar with such as English and Dutch. Did you know that Mandarin Chinese is the most natively spoken language in the world, followed by Spanish and English?
Chinese characters and sounds are so foreign to me that the only way to learn the phrases is to memorize the pronunciation. Today I learned "thank you" which is pronounced xie xie (sheh-sheh).
Those of us who are going on the trip are researching some of the major tourist attractions in Beijing, so I spent some time tonight learning about Chinese opera. I think I can safely say that there is no corollary in the U.S. and that it is probably an acquired taste. Check out this example:
This description on the West-meet-East website describes Chinese opera well and explains why it would be interesting for us Westerners to experience it: "Chinese opera has little in common with Western opera, and the screeching falsetto of the singers, the loud clacking of the clappers and the noisy banging of drums and cymbals can sound strange to Western ears. But it is the costumes, variety of facial expressions, the actors' eye expressions and martial arts movements that mostly attract Western audiences."
On a side note, I happened across what is probably the Chinese equivalent of an old wives' tale: a Chinese Gender Chart. According to the chart, my daughter's baby which is due March 1 will be a girl. We'll see...
Other preparations for the trip include working collaboratively with my classmates and professors on the presentation we will be giving at the Flat Classroom Conference. We've met several times via Adobe Connect, Skype, and Google Chat to analyze, design and develop our joint project, and will continue to do so until it is time to implement and evaluate it. In a way, we're using the ADDIE model to produce a presentation about ADDIE.
Xie xie to Dr. Z and the University of Northern Iowa for the opportunity to experience China firsthand!