Startalk: Last Week of Chinese Classes & Graduation {July 17th – 21st, 2017}

你好!~ It is time to talk about the last week of Startalk :,( I had been putting this blog post off for quite awhile because looking through these pictures, especially the graduation pictures, makes me feel very nostalgic! I want to go back! I need to get back on the Chinese grind!

Monday (July 17th, 2017)

This week we continued learning vocabulary words about the weather and we expanded on that theme by learning how to describe the temperature/highs and lows. We also learned more hobbies and how to describe peoples’ physical appearances.

We also had our last calligraphy class which was low key a blessing because I was really bad at calligraphy and I would get so stressed when our director would call a minute left and I still had to complete the assignment given. This class was really fun; however, because we also got to make our own bookmarks. Our director was trying to give us ideas on what to paint and she suggested writing “I love Alfred.” She was kidding… but everyone took that and ran with it XD Basically everyone used one of their bookmarks to write “I love Alfred.” (AN: Alfred is the name of our TA)

At the end of the calligraphy session, our director picked the three best pieces to win a calligraphy brush and to my surprise, I was chosen as the third winner! (Honestly, I do not think I deserved it whatsoever… but I kept asking her for help throughout the session and so it might have been a pity prize XD ) I will probably not continue practicing calligraphy on my own time but the next time I go to China Town, I will definitely buy a bottle of ink or an ink stick so I can paint when I am in the mood.


Week 4 7

I got Alfred to write my Chinese name (吳敏娜) in calligraphy. He did so much better than I could ever have done! 😛


Week 4 9


Tuesday-Thursday (July 18th-20th, 2017)

The rest of the week, minus Friday, was spent learning the last few things on the curriculum and working on our Final project, extra credit assignments, and other assignments that were due before the final on Thursday. Our final project was to pick a Taiwanese celebrity and introduce them with a video. I did mine on Aaron Yan or 炎亞綸. (I chose him because not only did I really enjoy his acting and singing in “Fall in Love with Me,” but also because Sydney and I did a project on him last week as one of our tasks. Take a look:

Week 4 14

Nothing too fancy… and I am currently cringing at my handwriting!!!

For extra credit, we had to watch a video on the Chinese language and radicals/characters and answer some questions. This week we also got to watch the entirety of a Taiwanese movie. It was called “Eat Drink Man Woman” or “飲食男女.” We got plenty of time to work on all these assignments during class as tasks stopped this week; however, I mostly used this time to goof off with all my classmates because we did not have that much time left together!


  • We had to rap a song about weather. We discovered that Ricky has a hidden talent in rapping. Someone sign him please !!! XD
  • Conversations about memes with Jada, Bruce, and Cetlali
  • Alfred roasting us as per usual
  • Teaching our 老師 what “twinning” means
  • Singing Kpop in the car with Becca
  • Embarrassing Jada with our singing skills when singing her Happy Birthday in the cafeteria- in front of everyone
  • The cafeteria CHURROS
Week 4 24

#bestlunchever #很好吃

Week 4 25

Photoshopped Kameron into our last lunch photo. Can you tell? XD

Friday (July 21st, 2017) – Startalk Graduation Ceremony

Oh, this day was filled with the feels! It was a really nice day though~

Week 4 46

Becca and I waiting to go inside. (We did not want to be too early…)

We started off the day viewing final projects. It was pretty awkward and embarrassing because I hate how my voice sounds over recordings and I was nervous that others would judge my pronunciation. Everyone felt the same as me, however, so it was not too bad. After our projects, we played a few rounds of this new vocab game (it has something to do with the wind… I wish I remembered its Chinese name!) and just talk with each other until it was time to take a class photo and make our way to the room where our graduation would be held.


Week 4 57

Last selfie in our Chinese class!!~

The graduation ceremony was in the same room we had orientation in which was an interesting feeling because our time in Startalk felt like it went full-circle. The ceremony started with the director talking about the program and what exactly it entailed (for all parents in attendance). We also had a few messages from our teachers. Next, they did something unexpected… they started playing my final project video! I almost fell out of my chair! I was surprised and my face immediately became red. Our director said that she wanted the parents to hear more of what the students had learned and so she had the teacher of each class pick the best final project. My 老師 picked mine! I was honestly very proud of myself, but I still could not help cringe at my voice XD We then got to watch a compilation of photos from throughout the program with some upbeat background music – it was really cute and I literally teared up.

Then, it was time to get our certificates. We started with my class and we all lined up like practiced (one of the things we did this week in preparation for graduation). We went down the line translating the Chinese sentence said before us and then saying a sentence in Chinese of our own choice. Afterward, the teachers called each student, one by one, to shake hands and accept their certificate of completion. The other class went after.

Week 4 35

My Class ❤

Week 4 36

Congratulations to me!~

And as I predicted, after the Director called everyone out to the hallway for photos and light refreshments, I started literally crying. My friends were gathering around me trying to comfort me and so I quickly stopped. I never thought that I would be getting so emotional. The program was less than 4 weeks but I still had a blast learning Chinese and I bonded a lot with my class mates. I could not imagine starting my senior year of high school and not going to Chinese class. Everything just blew up in my face at that point. However, I quickly got over it and a smile returned to my face~ Which was good because there were so many pictures afterward!! Prepare for a spam…

Week 4 52

Sabrina, me, Jada, Daina, and Adrienne with our Certificates of Completion


Week 4 40

The “Yeah Boi” Squad!!


Week 4 38

Becca did not get the “wear a yellow dress” memo

Week 4 41

The best people you will ever meet

Week 4 44

Me with my 小老師

Week 4 43

Had to snap a picture with my teacher and director~

After the ceremony, I had planned a lunch outing with anyone from my class that could attend at a Chinese restaurant in Bolingbrook called “Gong Ho.” Not everyone could make it… but a good amount did! I am so glad that we got to celebrate altogether outside of school~ We plan to hang out and eat food at least once a month or once every two months~ I really want us all to keep in touch even if we do not see each other a lot.

Week 4 48

Reflection: Startalk was one of the best decisions of my life. Not only did it allow me to stay productive through the summer, it gave me a kick start on learning Chinese which I might not have gotten from anything else. I made a lot of really great friends and I am now inspired to not only gain fluency in the Korean language but also the Chinese language. Lewis University was very kind; they gave us Startalk students the opportunity to continue our Chinese learning journey with a second semester online Chinese course. If we got an A in the summer course, we would be allowed to enroll in the online Chinese class for free! (Which was super nice because it would have been so expensive if I had to pay for it!)

  • I found out my grade from the class a couple weeks after the graduation ceremony- while I was in NY visiting family. I got an A and I am happy to say that I will be continuing Chinese with Lewis University this fall! Classes start on August 28th. I will have 3 assignments per week up until December. I will be meeting, through video call, with my professor (otherwise known as my director from Startalk) once every two weeks. We will also be doing handwritten assignments and we will also be taking tests. I can not wait to improve so much during this semester!! (Hopefully, I can handle it with my 5 AP classes… wish me luck! haha)

If you ever get the chance to participate in a Startalk program, please do! You will have a lot of fun and learn so much! If only I could apply next year, I would do it in a heartbeat~ Thanks for reading and do not forget to subscribe to my blog! More posts to come on traveling, NSLI-Y stuff, and learning Korean and Chinese. 謝謝! 再見!~

- Emma 吳敏娜


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s