Students enrolled in the Fridley High School Chinese language program traveled to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and the Asia Mall for a field trip on Friday, November 10. “Through this field trip, students gained an authentic experience related to their lessons,” said Hsiao-Hsuan Huang, Chinese language teacher at FHS.
At the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, students compared and contrasted Western and Eastern styles of gardens, and learned how the choice of plants is influenced by cultural preference and significance. Huang noted that mutual feedback exists between cultural systems and the environment, which in turn results in different lifestyles and values.
“We visited in the fall because we can observe more obvious differences between the gardens. We saw more colors in the Western gardens even though the fall leaves were almost gone from the trees because of the cold weather,” Huang said. “On the other hand, the Eastern gardens featured a lot of green.”
Students learned the reason behind plants placed in Chinese gardens, which are often used by Chinese parents as names for their children, reflecting expectations for their child's life. “Nature is deeply tied to Chinese culture,” Huang explained. “For example, 松 (pine tree) is green in all four seasons. It signifies perseverance. 梅 (winter plum flower) blossoms in the cold winter and signifies courage in the face of adversity.”
Afterward, the students visited the Asia Mall where there are several restaurants serving Asian food, a Chinese herbal acupuncture clinic, a grocery store, gift shops, travel agency and a real estate company. Students had the opportunity to explore the mall, while feeling immersed in the Chinese/Asian lifestyle. They were able to use language they've learned related to dining, travel, numbers, health and shopping.
Huang thanks the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Youth Education Manager Randy Gage and his team for assisting and being so accommodating during the trip.