Alice Zhao is teaching children how to paint rat.
By Chen Lin
China.org.cn's staff reporter from Chapel Hill, the United States
"Ms. Liu, I drank some ink!" a girl shouted to Deborah Liu, the regular classroom teacher of grades two and three at Glenwood Elementary School. Ms. Liu was handing out rice paper to other children. Upon hearing that, she dashed over to the girl and found out it was just a little joke.
"I would have liked to have explained a Chinese proverb about people who drink ink – it means they are thinking deeply, and another proverb that asserts if a person has ink in his stomach it means he has great knowledge – but I know the class would get totally out of control if I explained all this to them," Ms. Liu said.
The Chinese calligraphy and brush painting class for Grade Three is part of the dual language program at Glenwood Elementary School, located in the eastern part of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in the USA.
When Alice Zhao, the Chinese calligraphy and brush painting tutor, entered the classroom, all the children were sitting quietly around their tables.
Ms. Zhao, a locally famous Chinese brush painter and calligrapher, told the children that this year is the year of rat, so she would teach them how to draw a rat and how to write the Chinese character "shu," which means rat, with a Chinese brush.
Ms. Zhao attached a sheet of rice paper on the whiteboard and slowly drew a crouched mouse one stroke at a time.
"I like your design!" "Great, well done," she encouraged the children as she walked around the classroom.
After drawing another rat, she drew something swiftly on the paper. “Ms. Zhao, I can’t keep up with you!” a student yelled.
"I just want you to see what this is," Ms. Zhao answered gently. After a minute a vivid painting appeared on the paper: a little rat peering out of a can. All the kids laughed.
Next Ms. Zhao taught the students how to write the Chinese character "shu," – rat, with a Chinese brush. Apparently, they had already learned this character – because some children finished their writing before she did.
After the practice, each student got another piece of paper to draw and write a better one.