SPARTANBURG, S.C. – A tai chi sword presentation. Conversations in Chinese. A traditional umbrella dance. Instrumental and vocal performances. These are just a few of the demonstrations that students presented during the STARTALK Final Showcase recently in the Jerome Johnson Richardson Theater in the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts on Wofford College’s campus.

The showcase offered an opportunity for students to present what they learned this summer during the two-week Chinese language and cultural immersion program.

“This year we designed the curriculum around student journeys into the language and culture during their simulated study abroad trip to Beijing, and in the final showcase, we recapped this journey,” says Dr. Yongfang Zhang, program director and associate professor of Chinese at Wofford.

Shepard Hawj, a rising sophomore at Boiling Springs High School, has been attending the camp every summer since 2016. Hawj loves immersing himself into Chinese culture, not only through language but also through the cultural activities offered at STARTALK.

“My favorite part of this year’s program was the addition of tai chi courses and being able to perform a tai chi sword demonstration at the final showcase,” says Hawj.

Julia Richardson, a rising senior at Dorman High School, credits her passion for Chinese and for Wofford to STARTALK for being a returning camper.

“I love that it is such an immersive program and that the teachers are always willing to help you learn, grow and succeed in the language,” says Richardson, whose first college choice is Wofford. “My time on Wofford’s campus during STARTALK is what first got me interested in the college. I plan to double major in English and Chinese at Wofford and go on to pursue a career in law.”

STARTALK, federally funded by the National Security Agency and administered by the National Foreign Language Center, provides language learning and professional development programs in the 11 critical-need languages. The program seeks to increase the number of teachers of and students enrolled in the study of critical-need language.