Would you like to know who once ruled China but wasn't Chinese? That is what we're discovering in Chinese class from the book Kubla Khan (whose Chinese name was 忽必烈 hū bì liè).
Expanding on what read in the book, we also discussed the different life styles and cultures in China and in Mongolia. We discussed women's roles at the time and who was an important, positive influence to Kubla Khan, making him one of history's greatest leaders. As the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center notes:
What little remains of Mongol history remembers Kubla as an 'unusually fair' ruler. He was tolerant of other religions (holy moly!), championed the arts without censorship, promoted literacy, and even ushered in 'a golden age for Chinese theater.' He supported the sciences, advanced agriculture, standardized paper money, and tried to give every boy an education (he would have done better to educate the girls, ahem!)
In Upper Elementary class, in preparation for Poetry and Tea, we worked on learning the beauty of Chinese poems and Chinese tea tasting ceremonies. We have learned that Chinese poems, specifically the famous poems from Tang Dynasty, use characters as puzzles to describe the scene, the story and the metaphors that are hidden in the poem are used to express a poet's thoughts emotionally or politically.
As for the tea tasting, we tasted woo-long tea, oriental beauty tea, and jasmine tea with the Chinese tea set— including a cup that's only for smelling the fragrance of the tea.
On February 16, we will celebrate Chinese New Year! In preparation for the celebration, we're talking about the staple foods in China, and we're learning vegetable vocabulary words as well as sentences about going to a market. We are getting excited about making dumplings and welcoming the year of the dog!
Happy New Year, 新年快乐 ！(xīn nián kuài lè)