Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Local children learn other cultures with Heart Touch

Fan Yang came to The University of Alabama from China to study social work but decided to make an impact on the community by sharing her culture with local fourth graders. Yang designed the Heart Touch Program to connect American students to Chinese students with help from the Center for Community Based Partnership and Tuscaloosa’s One Place, an after school program.

“My concentration is children and their families,” Yang said. “I love children and I try to provide them something. I think the unique thing I can provide is about my background because I am from China. I know about Chinese culture, so I think that’s the best thing I can provide them.”

Yang, along with other student volunteers, visits seven elementary schools a week lecturing on Chinese culture and helping students write letters to students in China. One week she brought Chinese food donated by Lai Lai and taught students to use chopsticks.

“It was really interesting,” Emma Moultrie, a freshman majoring in psychology, said. “We taught them about Chinese food and we taught them how to use chopsticks and taught them about the foods they eat in China.”

Moultrie said she heard about the program through Blount and although she does not speak Chinese, wanted to foster relationships with the students. She said it is important to educate children about cultures other than their own. Moultrie volunteers helping translate letters from English to Chinese.

Jin Wang, a master’s student studying mechanical engineering, is another international student helping with the Heart Touch Program.

“I’ve done a lot volunteering stuff before and I found this program interesting,” Wang said. “In this program, I’m able to get to know young kids in America, how they think, what do they know about China, what are their dreams. I realize I can learn something from the kids and I can tell them how China actually looks like as well.”

Yang said the students were eager to listen and learn about Chinese culture, especially when food was involved.

“They sometimes ask me very good questions,” Yang said. “Someone asked me why there are so many ‘made in China’ things. It is very hard to answer, but some of them do not know very much about China.”

Yang is in her second year of the social work program at the University and said international students need to get involved outside of the University.

“It is very important for international students because I am an international student and I know how they feel,” Yang said. “I clearly remember my first semester here. I was new here and I didn’t know anyone. I tried to get involved, but I didn’t know how. The reason why I developed this program is to get more international students to get involved in the community so they can learn something about American culture and the community experience.”

Yang said she hopes to continue the Heart Touch Program as long as she is at the Capstone. She said she wants to help other UA students develop similar programs to get involved in the Tuscaloosa community.


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