The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

Making global connections at the China Folk House

FCPS Global Leaders visit Harpers Ferry, West Virginia to explore new cultural education opportunities
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Global Leaders of Fairfax County at the China Folk House, Sat. March 9.

Many people underestimate the power of a warm cup of tea. While visiting the China Folk House in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, a warm cup of tea was the start to a day of exploration and discovery; refreshing, warming, and welcoming.

On Sat., March 9, the Global Leaders of Fairfax County took a trip to the China Folk House, which is a traditional Chinese farmhouse that was saved from flooding in Yunnan China by being brought to the United States.
The House was pioneered by John Flower and Pam Leonard. Flower is a teacher of Chinese History at Sidwell Friends School in Washington DC. According to the China Folk House website, the house was a project that originated from the China Fieldwork Semester at the Sidwell Friends School, where students studied abroad in Yunnan, China.

When the group visited the town of Cizhong on their trip, they discovered that about 30 riverside homes would be destroyed in the building of a dam. Among these homes was a farmhouse owned by Mr. Zhang Jianhua, the future China Folk House.

After jokingly commenting about saving the house by “[taking] it home” to the US, the idea of the China Folk House began. With the help of Zhang, Flower, Leonard, and their team, they began working on dismantling the house and moving it to be rebuilt in the US.

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The house bridges various aspects of Chinese society, and serves as a hybrid representation of the cultures, religions, and artistic practices in the area. The project has preserved the home, and saved its stories, culture, and history.
Now, the China Folk House serves as a learning tool for many.

“In Fairfax County, multicultural experiences are a part of daily life. The more we can understand the cultural backgrounds of our fellow community members, the more we can achieve together as a community and a society,” says Ryan McElveen, the founder and managing director of the Global Leaders of Fairfax County program.

Senior Stephanie Chu adds that new cultural experiences, like the one provided at the China Folk House, help “[broaden] our perspectives about the world,” allowing us to be “more aware and open-minded about various cultures, overcome predetermined assumptions, and share these new perspectives with others.”

At the China Folk House, students were given the opportunity to learn about the origins of the house through touring and watching a short film.

“My favorite part was definitely watching the film [Mr. Flower] shared about the students who went to China for a semester with him, and…the initial conversation they had with [Mr. Zhang Jianhua],” says Global Leader, Tsion Teklibirhan. The film can be found on the China Folk House website.

The China Folk House provides an authentic take on experiential cultural learning.

“As someone who is Chinese, I’ve never had a chance to visit [or] interact with China besides Chinatowns in America. Going on this trip gave me an opportunity to learn more about the aspects of China that I had never been exposed to,” says Chu.

The China Folk House also combats cultural divides and the lack of representation of Chinese culture and traditions in the United States.

“At a time when U.S.-China relations are fraught and anti-Asian discrimination has reached all-time highs, it is more important than ever to educate Americans about the long history and culture of China,”says McElveen. “Experiences like what can be found at the China Folk House allow us [to] better understand the backgrounds of our Chinese-American community members and promote mutual understanding.”

The China Folk House allows for anyone to learn about the intersections between US and Chinese culture.

“It was an authentic firsthand glimpse into the lives of Chinese communities and the different parts of their culture.” says Teklibirhan.

This summer, the Global Leaders of Fairfax County and other students are taking a trip to China in collaboration with the China Folk House Retreat.

For anyone interested in culture, architecture, and history, the drive to Harpers Ferry is definitely worthwhile.

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About the Contributor
Christina Abouzeki
Christina Abouzeki, Co-International Editor
Senior Christina Abouzeki is in her second year of journalism as a Co-International Editor. She loves reading, listening to music, and traveling. She plays on the varsity volleyball team and the violin in the philharmonic orchestra. Outside of school, she also likes to spend time with her friends and family.

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