In early March, students in the Mandarin 2 class visited the Bachmann Collaboration Building’s Art Studio for a Chinese calligraphy workshop, learning the basics of character writing and the immense patience central to the art of calligraphy.
Led by English teacher and Mandarin speaker Mark Salzman, drawing and painting teacher Melissa Manfull, and Karen Chung (the long-term substitute for Mandarin teacher Grace Qing), the hands-on workshop covered the history of calligraphy within the Chinese languages and students learned basic strokes, drew specific characters, and practiced writing their names in Mandarin.
Salzman shared the poem《相思》(Lovesickness or thinking of you) by 王维 (Wang Wei) to the students and a calligraphy dictionary from when he traveled through China in the 1980s. “It was made before the digital age, so you could see that the characters were cut and pasted together from stone rubbings,” Chung shares. “Mr. Salzman picked the character 永 to work on for the workshop because it is simple enough and has a few different basic strokes that students can work on.” (永 translates roughly to forever, always, perpetual in English).
Students learned how to hold a calligraphy brush, how to move the brush and where to pause, and why stroke order and direction matter when writing characters. Throughout the class, Salzman shared his perspective with students as a non-native speaker, which for many of the non-native speakers provided a bit of encouragement as they hone their conversational skills.
“Having the Mandarin 2 students learn and apply this unique lesson is a proud moment for the department,” shares World Languages Department Chair Fabian Bejarano. “Our Mandarin program is still new in its second year and the thought of creative applications like this for the future are exciting. Additionally, the cultural aspect of the lesson was equally if not more important than the skill. Anytime our students work hands-on with an activity like this, it immerses and brings the study of the language and culture to life in a tangible way.”
Flintridge Preparatory School, 4543 Crown Ave., La Cañada Flintridge, (818) 790-1178 or visit www.flintridgeprep.org.