This summer we’ve had a busy season packed with education programs, culinary tours, awesome speakers, and guests like you! Here’s an overview of what we’ve been up to here at the Centre over the past few months. This post is part one of our summer wrap-up series, with a focus on our guest lectures and theme tours, enjoy!
Exploring Dali Cuisine with Tzu-I Chuang
Following in the footsteps of last year’s successful culinary tour, this year “anthropologist in the kitchen,” Tzu-i Chuang joined the Linden Centre for a second program filled with music, crafts, and of course, food! This year participants from all around China joined Tzu-I and the Linden Centre team in a farm-to-table meal at Chaimiduo organic farm, traveled to Shaxi to learn about the Bai traditional meal of “Ba Da Wan” (Eight Big Bowls), savored cross-the-bridge noodles, and enjoyed a western-style Barbeque party. The last afternoon Tzu-i gave a public talk to share about her food and life journey. She spoke about how cooking is similar to how we learn a language, and each place has their own sets of rules, like proper grammar and syntax which guides them when they put together a meal.
The pleasure of sharing food, telling stories and singing along with Tzu-i as she played the guitar are lasting memories for all who participated in this culinary and cultural experience.
Paradise Gardening with Joe Hollis
Hailing from North Carolina, Joe Hollis purchased the land that would become “Mountain Gardens” in 1972. In July, Joe gave a guest lecture at the Centre about his experience creating a secluded Taoist haven from scratch.
“Mountain Gardens is a botanical garden of useful plants featuring the largest collection of native Appalachian and Chinese medicinal herbs in the Eastern U.S., organically grown at the foot of the Black Mountains in western North Carolina.” During his talk, Joe showed many pictures of Mountain Gardens that spanned from the 1970s to present, and walked visitors through how he designed and shaped every part of the complex garden.
In addition to showing the physical landscape, Joe talked about the different herbs and plants that he grows and explained how Taoist philosophy shaped much of his beliefs on herbalism, Chinese medicine, and life. Joe began his garden by compiling a list of the 1,000 most useful plants to grow, and began collecting many of the seeds and plants to include in his own garden. His garden includes local herbs and perennial vegetables traditionally used by the Cherokee natives who once lived in the area, as well as Chinese herbs like ginseng, mahuang, and baisha, which are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to “yangshen,” or as preventative medicines.
In terms of philosophy, Joe shared with guests the legends of Chinese hermits who were applauded for going back to nature and given respect for rejecting the confines of society. He also pointed to the example of Taoists who did not want to fully give up civilization, and would instead create gardens within cities to create a place of respite where they could replenish good energy.
Today Joe’s garden is secluded and nearly self-sustainable, all of the houses on the land were built from wood and stone found on-site. Joe’s doctor is a Taoist priest, and today he mainly sells his seeds and herbs to his neighbors and also takes on apprentices throughout the year. To learn more about Mountain Gardens, you can visit Joe’s website at: www.mountaingardenherbs.com
Early Childhood Education with Professor Henan Cheng
“Professor Henan Cheng is the associate director of the Center on Chinese Education at Teacher’s College, Columbia University in New York City. She has been an adjunct professor in the Department of International and Transcultural Studies since 2012. Her primary research interests include international and comparative education, educational development and equity issues in China, especially issues related to education of ethnic minorities and children of migrants.”
One of professor Cheng’s previous graduate students works for Studio Education, as such professor Cheng joined last year and this year’s Studio Education sessions to see the program in action. As part of the Studio Education trip, the students from Shanghai visited a local Xizhou kindergarten where they spent time playing with the local Bai minority kids. After visiting the kindergarten, professor Cheng organized a talk about the importance of early childhood education for the parents of the kindergarten class.
The talk was held at the Linden Centre: Yan’s House, where parents, grandparents, and their little ones learned about different methods of children’s education stressing not only the importance of academic education, but also social, emotional, and bodily health and wellness. Professor Cheng also shared ways that parents can continue to add to their child’s education at home through learning activities and games. At the end of the presentation, professor Cheng and Jeanee Linden read a picture book to the local children in attendance, who were all jumping out of their seats to get a closer look at the pictures in the book!
After story time, professor Cheng held a Q&A session with the local parents, one of whom is one of the teachers at the kindergarten. Although shy at first, the parents began asking questions about how to give their kids extracurricular educational opportunities with the resources that they have. At the end of the night the parents thanked professor Cheng and Jeanee, and graciously invited them to their house for a meal the next evening.
China Travels with Professor Barry Kitterman
Barry Kitterman joined the Linden Centre this summer as both an artist-in-residence and an instructor for the Linden Centre’s Creative Writing Camp. Barry is a professor at Austin Peay State University and is the author of both Bakers Boy and From San Joaquin. He also taught as a foreign language teacher at Nankai University in 1985 and Qingdao University in 1986.
During his last week in Xizhou, Barry held a talk at the Centre about his travels in China; he shared photos from his travels, experiences teaching creative writing, and shared poems he wrote that were inspired by a local photography exhibit. While completing his residency, Barry could often be found soaking in the sun on the Linden Centre terrace and chatting with interns and guests alike in the café.