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Education Local Culture U.S.-China Relations

Summer Wrap-Up: Education Programs

September 2, 2019

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 3 of our Summer Wrap-Up series, with a focus on education programs, enjoy!

Creative Writing Camp

Dates: 7.1.2019 – 7.10.2019


Barry Kitterman (U.S.A.)

University of California Berkeley, Bachelors in English

University of Montana, Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Austin Peay State University, Professor

Jessica Brofsky (U.S.A.)

Cornell University, Bachelors in English

Princeton University, P.h.D. in English beginning in Fall 2019

Veronica Dickson (U.S.A.)

Princeton in Asia x The Linden Centre, Fellowship

Cornell University, Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations

In July we hosted our first ever Creative Writing Camp, which was attended by students from Guangzhou, Beijing, and Hunan; the youngest student was eight years old! The two academic instructors for the program were Americans Barry Kitterman and Jessica Brofsky, while their extracurricular activities were led by Princeton-in-Asia fellow Veronica Dickson. The instructors’ goal was to teach creative writing but also to instill a fundamental sense of creative freedom and skills of observation.


The students read stories and novels throughout the camp such as Three Billy Goats Gruff and portions of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. The children loved reading fiction from other countries and traditions and improvised on these classic stories to write their own adaptions. The kids ended each night listening to Barry read a section of S.E. Hinton’s classic novel, The Outsiders.

When not in the classroom, the kids spent time playing educational games and exploring the town of Xizhou with their notebooks in hand. At the end of the camp, the kids confidently presented their work in a sharing session with their proud parents and teachers.

Architecture + Design Camp

Dates: 2019.7.12 – 2019.7.21


Jinming Feng (China)

Central Academy of Fine ArtsBachelor of ArchitectureSouthern California Institute of ArchitectureMaster of Architecture

Shanghai Gleneagles Hospital

2015 WAN Future Projects Medical Building First Place, Chief Architect

Wuhan University, Lecturer

Mengxi Wu (China)University of California BerkeleyMaster of Architecture at the School of Environment DesignNASA Ames Biosciences Laboratory, Construction Design

Felicia Jiang (U.S.A.)

Princeton University, Bachelors in Civil Engineering

University of California Berkeley, Masters in Urban Planning beginning in Fall 2019

May Braverman (U.S.A.)

Princeton in Asia x The Linden Centre, Fellowship


In Xizhou you’re never far from nature; it’s impossible to escape the Cang Mountains that dominate the skyline and the rice fields and streams interspersed throughout the landscape. This is the setting for the Linden Centre’s first ever summer youth Architecture + Design Thinking Camp. Within the context of this historic village, students from all over China, including two Xizhou girls, learned how to study a local architectural landscape, and how to design, from scratch, their own piece of it.

Architects Jin Ming Feng and Mengxi Wu were the principle instructors for the camp, leading the children in lessons on architectural concepts and construction methods. They were assisted in academic activities and residential life by Felicia Jiang and May Braverman.


Over the 10 days, the students showed an amazing capacity for creative thought through a process of observing everyday objects, to painting their chosen objects, to making 3-D models based on their abstract paintings. On the second day of the camp, students identified interesting objects at the local wet market, which they brought back to the classroom to photograph and sketch.

From these everyday objects, such as lily flower bulbs, star anise, fermented eggs, mushrooms, and more, the students created amazing architectural designs. Their final designs ranged from a dream house, to shelters, to abstract geometrical sculptures.

After sharing their 3-D models, the students worked together to make two of their classmate’s models into large-scale installations that are on display in the rice fields outside of the Linden Centre. Although they did not have enough time to make everyone’s models into full-scale creations, the Linden Centre has hired local craftsmen to finish construction of the remaining models, which will also be displayed publicly throughout Xizhou. See if you can spot all seven designs on your next visit to Xizhou!


Studio Klasse Youth Film Story Lab

Dates: 2019.8.6 – 2019.8.16


Luiza Maria Budner (Germany) 

Lisa Bulow (Germany) 

Daniel Che Hermann (Germany) 

University of Wuppertal, Media and Design 

Medienprojekt Wuppertal (Germany’s Foremost Youth Film Organization), Instructor & Editing Expert 

Numerous Internationally Award-Winning Short Films, Editing Expert 

Camille Ma (China) 

Beijing Film Academy, Bachelor of Arts in Directing 

University of Southern California, Master of Arts at School of Cinematic Arts, Editing, Writing, Directing 

Berlin Short Film Festival, Shortlisted Film Director 

Ikea, Lancome, Huawei, etc. Brands, Commercial Director 

Linjie Sheng (China)

The Central Academy of Drama, Bachelors in Directing (Film and T.V.) 

Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Masters in Free Art 

Timon Wawreczko (Germany)

University of Ruhr, Bachelor of Arts in Chinese 

VENSENYA, Founder 

Award-Winning Short Films and Documentaries, Composer 

May Braverman (U.S.A.)

Vanderbilt University, Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies 

Princeton in Asia x The Linden Centre, Fellowship 

Michael Chen (U.S.A.)

Yenching Academy of Peking University, Scholar 

Princeton in Asia x The Linden Centre, Fellowship (2017-2018) 

Zach Mazlish (U.S.A.)

Brown University, Bachelor of Arts Class of 2021 

The Linden Centre, Summer Internship 

Cindy Zhang (China)

Colby College, Bachelor of Arts Class of 2022 

Studio Klasse, Winter and Summer 2018

In August we were excited to host the fifth session of the Linden Centre’s signature camp: Studio Klasse Film Story Lab. This year we had a record attendance of 23 students who came from all over China, which included four local Dali participants. The students were led throughout the workshop by a team of experienced filmmakers, music producers, and filmmaking teachers made up of: Luiza Maria Budner, Lisa Bulow, Daniel Che Hermann, Camille Ma, Linjie Sheng, and Timon Wawreczko. They were supported by: May Braverman, Michael Chen,  Zach Mazlish, and Cindy Zhang.
Over the course of ten days, the students learned about the fundamentals of filmmaking—from camerawork, to sound recording, to storytelling and acting. During the second half of the camp, the kids were divided into teams, and worked together to produce two short films. Their feature short films were based on the prompts of “change” and “Xizhou.” Students created and participated in every aspect of their films including storytelling, scriptwriting, filming, acting, sound recording, editing, and producing.
The final four films were: “Scare Grow,” “Little Swallow Coming Home,” “The Little Detective,” and “Life in a Baba.” They covered subjects such as fear of growing up, LGBTQI love, mystery & crime, and family tragedy.
At the end of the camp, the four films were publicly screened at the Linden Centre: Yan’s House. After each film, students participated in a Q&A session about their films and experiences. Despite hosting the camp in Xizhou over the course of two years, our amazing students never fail to use their creativity to find new ways to tell Xizhou stories through the lens.

Studio Education

Dates: 7.22.2019 – 8.5.2019


Studio Education founder Mr. James Jobbins, Mrs. Sarah Jobbins, Isaac Leaver, Joe Rogus, and Abbie Szabo

Screen Shot 2019-09-02 at 11.28.04 AM

Studio Education is an organization founded in 2013 that provides educational support and preparation for Chinese students who aspire to study abroad at a variety of international institutions. Studio Education’s programs hope to instill in students “higher order thinking skills of analysis, observation, and synthesis.”

As an educational programming partner of the Linden Centre, Studio Education sends a cohort of students to live for two weeks at our educational site, Yang Zhuo Ran. Over the course of two weeks, the students participated in local cultural activities, created ethnographies, and put on skits based on local legends.

The students were led by a team of Studio Education instructors including: Studio Education founder Mr. James Jobbins, Mrs. Sarah Jobbins, Isaac Leaver, Joe Rogus, and Abbie Szabew. The Linden Centre organized many of the cultural experiences and provided staff support; Princeton-in-Asia fellow Veronica Dickson provided 24-hour support, while intern Victor Chen and Linden Centre activities director Michael Yang organized and led many of the local excursions.


The students visited local temples and mosques, created tie-dye pieces, learned how to play traditional Bai instruments, and got their hands dirty in an organic farm-to-table cooking class. On the last day of the program, students performed their skits of local legends, with many of the kids creating their own elaborate costumes.

Middlebury School of the Environment

Dates: 6.7.2019 – 6.29.2019


Curt Gervich, Liou Xie, Alex Nickley, Heather Fair, and Joan Grossman


Every summer Middlebury brings a summer environmental credit course (SoE) to Xizhou to explore the relationship between the local environment and people. This year their key word was “water,” with courses focused on researching water treatment methods and the relationship between water and local communities. The group of students, from over 5 different countries, spent three weeks of study in Xizhou, during which they were based out of Yang Zhuo Ran where they attended daily classes.

Co-director of the SoE program Curt Gervich commented: “we want students to experience a small town like Xizhou, not a big city like Shanghai or Beijing. Yunnan is the home of many ethnic minorities and has a rich natural environment where students can learn about local biodiversity and practices of different ethnic groups. During the time in Xizhou, we had classes in the Cangshan mountains, by Erhai lake, and in local craft workshops. In these environments students are more open, willing to learn, communicate, and participate in their projects.” The Linden Centre staff helped provide on-site support throughout the program with local knowledge, translation, logistics coordination, and even fun!

During their time in Yunnan, the college students all participated in a course called “Sustainability Practicum,” in which they were tasked with considering the future of environmental sustainability. They also chose from five electives including: “Understanding Place” a course on understanding the local community from multiple perspectives; “China and the Environment” a course on the history of environmental issues in China locally and nationally; “Environmental Analysis” a course on the treatment of water and its relationship with local communities; “Aquatic Ecology” a scientific course focused on water and biodiversity; and “Environmental Video Making,” for which students produced videos about the local habitat and learned how to interpret environmental issues from an artistic perspective. The aforementioned courses were taught by instructors Curt Gervich, Liou Xie, Alex Nickley, Heather Fair, and Joan Grossman.

During her time in Xizhou, Joan Grossman was also the artist-in-residence at the Linden Centre, and hosted a 48-Hour Film Workshop that was open to the public. During the workshop participants got a crash-course in filmmaking, camerawork, and editing; each team received a set of keywords as prompts to make their own short films, which were later screened in Xizhou. We look forward to next year’s Middlebury SoE collaboration!  


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