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Teaching About Asia - December 2007

USCI's monthly e-newsletter on news and resources for teaching about Asia
December 19, 2007

Hong Kong actor Andy Lau and Santa Claus wear 3D spectacles
at a Christmas lighting ceremony in Hong Kong. (Reuters)

Season's greetings! With the holiday quickly approaching, many of you are no doubt planning holiday menus, wrapping gifts, getting ready to travel or making various other holiday plans in preparation for celebration.  Over in East Asia, the end of 2007 is being commemorated in slightly different ways.

In South Korea, the spirit of Christmas and Confucian learning combine as employees of Everland amusement park complete a Santa school qualifying exam - the curriculum: proper festive dancing, singing, chuckling, saying "merry Christmas" as chirpily as possible and making the best use of fake snow.  Some Hong Kong residents are not as embued with holiday cheer - many, including astronomers, are complaining about the light pollution caused by the city's famous skyline.   The mood is lighter in Japan, however, with an inventor's devising of the best use of eels since unagi - it took Kazuhiko Minawa more than a month to construct a tank that harnesses the power of an electric eel to light a nearby Christmas tree.  Says Minawa, "If we could gather all electric eels from all around the world, we would be able to light up an unimaginably giant Christmas tree."

For those of you planning ahead, we are pleased to announce that we will be holding our Spring 2008 professional development seminar, "East Asia and New Media in My Classroom," at TWO locations in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.  Teachers are encouraged to visit the "K-12 Curriculum" section of our website for additional detail and application information.  Seminar overviews and schedules can be found below. 

Teachers are also invited to join us in March and April 2008 for one-day workshops on "Human Rights in Asia" and "Chinese Film and Politics."  Teachers who attend both may be eligible to receive one LAUSD salary point.  Details are being finalized - we will keep you posted.       

If you have already completed an NCTA seminar, you can extend your East Asia learning experience in China and Japan over the summer.  Apply for the NCTA California Summer Study Tour to China and Japan by downloading the application from our website.  The application deadline is February 1, 2008.

Please share this newsletter with your colleagues and encourage them to subscribe (go to our newsletter subscription page and select the “K-12 Education” subscriber category). As always, we welcome your feedback - please write to us at

Warmest wishes for a joyous holiday and happy new year!

In this issue:

♦  NCTA Seminars - Spring 2008  ♦
♦  2008 NCTA Summer Study Tour to China and Japan  ♦
♦  USCI in the Classroom - Web Resources  ♦
♦  Additional Resources for Teaching about Asia  ♦
♦  Teachers on Asia


♦  NCTA Seminars - Spring 2008

The USC U.S.-China Institute (USCI) is committed to improving teaching about China and the rest of Asia.  For Spring 2008, we will be holding the "East Asia and New Media in My Classroom" seminar in conjunction with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) at two locations: the UTLA building in Los Angeles and Millikan Middle School in the San Fernando Valley.

The seminars will meet on six alternating Tuesday evenings from 5 to 8 pm, with three Saturday sessions from 9 am to 3:30 pm.  Priority in enrollment will be given to World History and Language Arts teachers, but all teachers are encouraged to apply.  Enrollment in each seminar will be limited to 20 participants. 

"East Asia and New Media in My Classroom" at a glance:

Duration: 36 hours
Eligibility: Open to all; priority enrollment for World History and Language Arts teachers
Class size: 20 teachers per seminar
Seminar focus:  1) Helping teachers address CA educational standards by exploring East Asian history and culture; 2)  Using new media resources to develop East Asia-focused lesson materials
Seminar topics
East Asia: Geography/Early East Asia, East Asia since 1900, Cosmopolitan East Asia, Women in East Asian History, Chinese Philosophy, Late Imperial China, Classical and Warrior Japan, The Meiji Restoration, Japanese Literature, Using Poetry; New Media: Web Research, Web Collaboration
Upon sucessful completion of seminar and follow-up requirements, individuals are eligible to receive:
    →  $500 stipend
    →  $200 in East Asian referene and teaching materials
    →  $300 school library grant for East Asia-focused materials
    →  Two LAUSD salary points or six USC continuing education units

Seminar schedules:

UTLA (Los Angeles): February 5 to May 27, 2008
Millikan (San Fernando Valley): January 29 to May 31, 2008


For additional information on the seminars, application directions and forms, visit the "K-12 Curriculm" of the USCI website at  The deadline for receipt of applications is Friday, January 25, 2008.

 ♦  2008 NCTA California Summer Study Tour to China and Japan

The National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA) invites seminar alumni from 2001-2007 seminars in California to participate in our 2008 study tour to China and Japan. California teachers who have successfully completed an NCTA seminar coordinated by CSUF, Stanford, UCLA, or USC are eligible to apply. 

→  Tentative tour dates: June 28 to July 19, 2008
→  Application deadline: Friday, February 1, 2008

Additional information, application directions and forms for the study tour are available for download on our website. 


 ♦  USCI in the Classroom - Web Resources

The USCI website ( is your one-stop shop for news and resources about China and the rest of Asia.  Some of our latest features:

 •  The Chinese value family, getting rich and living as they like

What do Chinese and Americans think of each other? Of issues that might lead to conflict? Of the positive or negative influence of the other’s culture? Of what is really important in their individual lives?

Some answers to these questions are now available, thanks to a recent Committee of 100 survey. Two interesting tidbits: Members of the Chinese Communist Party think more highly of the US than do non-Party members and while most Americans don’t think Taiwan is likely to be a source of US-China conflict, a majority of Chinese do. 

•  Steven Spielberg appeals to Hu Jintao; How "fragile" is China's power?

Visit the "Resources" section of our website for the latest China- and Asia-related documents and book reviews. 

Recently added documents include a letter from director Spielberg to Chinese president Hu on aid to Darfur and speeches made at the recent US-China Strategic Economic Dialogue talks in China.  New reviews are available for books on the changing attitudes of Americans toward China in 1930s and 1940s and China's "fragile" superpower

 •  US-China Today

Our newly launched student-driven e-magazine focuses on the multidimensional and evolving U.S.-China relationship with coverage of and commentary on a wide range of political, economic, social, and cultural issues.  To get the latest headlines, as well as browse daily summaries of China-related stories in the international media, visit the US-China Today website at


 ♦  Additional Resources for Teaching about Asia

•  Mapping Asia

Chicago is currently hosting a "Festival of Maps," but in case you don't get a chance to make it there, below are some web resources for the classroom:

→   The Perry-Castañeda Library's comprehensive online collection of Asian maps includes many interesting historical maps.

→   The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Library's "China in Maps - A Library Special Collection" feaures a gallery of historical Chinese maps dating back to the 14th century.

→   Richard Smith of Rice University has a wonderful and inexpensive book entitled Chinese Maps: Images of All under Heaven (Oxford U. Press, 1996) - click here to see a sample of his work.   

→   To learn about shifting boundaries and the relative importance of various places at various times, check out the innovative Harvard China Historical GIS

•  Choking on Growth

Some teachers may be following the outstanding “Choking on Growth” series from the New York Times. Among the wonderful web-only resources available are narrated slide shows and excellent graphics.

The Times hasn’t created lesson plans for these materials yet (perhaps one of our current seminar participants could take this on), but at the Times Learning Network there are some excellent lesson plans on Chinese environmental issues.

•  China Road

Those looking for a fun and informative book about today’s China should pick up a copy of NPR correspondent Rob Gifford’s China Road. The NPR website has audio reports and other materials from his journeys along National Road 312 from Shanghai to Korgaz.

As Amanda Ronan and others on the web forum have noted, Gifford is back in China and NPR has been airing a series of reports on life along the Yellow River. Those reports and slide shows from the show’s producer are available here

•  Got a good tip on teaching resources? 

→  E-mail us and we will share it in the next issue

 ♦  Teachers on Asia

•  Asia in My Classroom Discussion Forum

Teachers of all levels and subjects are invited to join our "Asia in My Classroom" forum. To become a registered user (enabling you to post to the board), please e-mail us your request along with your name, school, and the grades and subjects you teach.  What teachers have been talking about:

→  From a review of the book Waiting, by Ha Jin: "...It is about a man in 1960s China who is in an arranged marriage...The main characters display the universal struggle between the needs of the human heart and requirements of duty. All this is played out across different areas and climates of China. The book is restrained in the beginning for Western readers expecting explosions and 'hooks' due to the inaction and lack of decision made by the main characters. Indecisiveness results in a decisions/consequences in an ironic way. Great story about China at this time in history!"
- Betse Amador, Fleming Middle School

→  On the Korean Folk Village website:  "This is the website from a Korean folk village. I actually visited this place in 2004 and had really fond memories of it, so I was looking forward to exploring the website. It is well organized and eye pleasing. Each section has a couple of paragraphs explaining different aspects of traditional Korean culture, so it is certainly a useful site for students doing research. The language might be a little difficult for younger children to understand, but I think it would be all right for middle and high school students. "

-Judi Lee, Mid City Magnet


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USC U.S. - China Institute

3535 S. Figueroa Street, FIG 202
Los Angeles, CA 90089-1262
United States of America

phone: 213-821-4382
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