This program is organized by Duke faculty/staff in collaboration with DukeEngage.

Program Dates

May 14 - July 10

Service Focus

Partnering with a middle school to provide arts education and English lessons.  

Program Leader

, Professor of the Practice, Department of Music, Duke University

Program Scope

The DukeEngage Zhuhai program was started the summer of 2010 with a mission to integrate arts-education into the local curriculum at Zhuhai No. 9 Middle School (grades 7-9). Service through teaching in addition to the immersive experience of living with host families will provide DukeEngage students with great opportunities to build a reciprocal relationship with the Zhuhai community; they will learn the true culture of Chinese citizens and gain insight into a new way of living while they concurrently share with a Chinese society the important value of education. 

The program is located in the city of Zhuhai, a southern Chinese city located within the former Special Economic Zone, which is in many ways a perfect microcosm of 21st century China—a rapidly evolving country that continues to develop and transform daily, and acts as an influential force of the globe, home to extremely talented and innovative individuals. However, the intense momentum of forward development in China has resulted in an education system lagging behind with many gaps. Millions of Chinese students are placed into overcrowded classrooms each year, with a relentless, singular emphasis on standardized tests. These scores continue to determine a student’s survival and success after school. Students lack several essential elements to an education and they are destined to seek perfect test scores, but not artistic potentials; formulas but not personal creativity; professions and jobs but not passions and dreams.

During the two months of service, the Zhuhai program aims to open the minds of young Chinese students using Duke students’ own unique experiences and education. Through a series of integrative classes, DukeEngage participants will teach English using various art forms—all of which integrate leadership, self-confidence and self-expression. Duke students will expose Chinese students to a form of arts education to which they have never before had access. Lesson after lesson, we will strive to nourish students with a greater understanding of their self-worth, social awareness, and responsibilities through constructive and self-exploring interaction with the arts. In this way, the DukeEngage Zhuhai program will encourage Chinese students to understand school as the beginning of a life-long journey—a place in which they can expand their boundaries, push limitations, and try novel pursuits.

Service Opportunities

1) Develop an art–based educational project for the school

2) Establish after-school classes including: drawing, dancing, singing, filming, acting, photography, sports and other art classes

3) Expand the English teaching program for school English teachers

4) Engage in weekend community service at a local orphanage; a school for persons with disabilities; and nearby primary, middle, or high schools

5) Conduct discussion sessions with local university students

Program Requirements and Logistics

Language Requirements: Mandarin Chinese 101 and 102 (in spring) or proficient speaking skills will be given strong preference. Applicants with limited Chinese language background will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

Course Requirements: (One or more course from the following): Theater or Documentary, or Visual and Media Studies; Department of Dance or Music Department; service learning courses

Other Skills/Competencies: Applicants should have been actively involved in various performing groups or arts-related organization/groups and activities at Duke and its community.  Your program leader will also be looking for the following attributes among participants: 

Commitment and dedication:
- trustworthy and independent in performing tasks
- self-driven, persevering, and unafraid of challenges
- demonstrates high ethical standards and integrity
Team player:
- open-minded and appreciative of differences
- good communicator and always seeking feedback
Passion about the Arts:  
- creative and willing to step out of the “comfort zone”
- being able to communicate through the arts
- bringing energy to the program and being inspirational to others
Positive attitude: 
- ability to embrace and flexibly adapt in unstructured environment
- being resourceful and willing to go the extra mile
Self-awareness and maturity:
- willingness to serve the community with humility
- expand the personal strength and self-discovery
- strong desire to work and interact with people in a foreign setting
- respectful behavior toward others
Reflection Sessions:  The program leader or the program site coordinator will lead weekly reflection session during lunch breaks to assess projects. Meetings also provide a platform for the exchange and contribution of ideas, and updates on individual work. In addition to the group reflection sessions, every participant will be required to write and post weekly entries on the DukeEngage Zhuhai blog.

Neighborhood: No.9 Middle School is located in Zhuhai’s Xinxiangzhou district, and is within walking distance to public transportation, restaurants, shops, and the majority of host families’ homes.

Housing and Accommodations: All DukeEngage students will stay in the hotel in the first week of the program, and each student will share a room with another DukeEngage student of the same gender. After the first week, all students will be placed with their local host families. All families will provide internet services, hot showers, and access to laundry machines.

Meals: Duke students can negotiate meal arrangements with their host families or eat at nearby restaurants. They can also purchase breakfast and lunch daily at No. 9 Middle School.

Communication:  Students will have internet access at their hotel (week 1) as well as the homes of their host families. Students should bring an ethernet cord and a laptop. Every Duke student must have a local cell phone for emergency contact throughout the duration of the program (this will be arranged and purchased by the DukeEngage Program).

Transportation: Students can walk to school if their host families are within walking distance, and others can take public transportation or use taxi service to their work site. If fieldtrips take place in the Zhuhai region, transportation will be likely arranged by Zhuhai No.9 Middle School. Some field trips will require students to use taxi, subway or China’s Long-Distance Bus System, rail system, ferries, etc. If a longer trip is taking place outside of the Zhuhai region, for example, potential trip to Beijing—China's capital city, famous for its long imperial history—and possibly Xi'an, home to the Terracotta Soldiers depending on budget and time constraints, all logistics, itineraries and transportations will be arranged by the faculty leader or site coordinator. 

Volunteer Placement Logistics:  Duke students generally arrive at the school by 8:30 in the morning each day. Students typically teach thirteen different English classes a week (subject to change depending on how many students the school places in the program for the summer) at the seventh and eighth grade levels. Standardly, students teach 3 classes three days out of the week and 2 classes two days out of the week. Each class is 45 minutes in length with approximately 10-20 students. English lessons are up to the individual’s discretion to plan and teach; students are provided with the textbook used by the middle school and may create lessons according in alignment with the curriculum. Usually, however, students will simply take vocabulary from the textbooks and create new and innovative class structures involving games or other hands-on learning activities. Classes can even consist of choosing a theme for discussion for the day. Lessons are focused less on teaching structures, rules, and grammar and more on promoting conversational skills or simply getting the Chinese students to talk at all (they are generally very shy initially and will refrain from participation). Duke students will learn a lot about flexibility and impromptu lesson-making as they often must adjust their plans according to the diverse levels of each class. 

Additionally, extracurricular classes are taught after academic English classes three days out of the week for an hour-long period. Thus, service hours are often extended to the early evenings since the arts classes are taught during the late afternoons. After school ends, many Duke students will remain at No. 9 after hours to interact with students – talking with them, spending extra time to personally tutor students who seek additional help in either English or an arts-related area, playing pickup basketball games, etc.

During the school day, there is a long lunch break and many Duke students choose to eat with the local school children. Students can use this time to make lesson plans as well. Although students can expect some type of service opportunities on Saturdays, Sundays are free. 

The following are some samples of the arts classes that past program participants offered: singing, breakdancing, ballet, modern dance, hip-hop, film-making, acting, photography, arts and crafts, guitar, cheerleading, baseball, football, frisbee, and journalism.

During the final weeks of service, Duke students are expected to organize a culminating performance where the No. 9 Middle School students will display their artistic talent, perform the acts and skills they have learned in the extracurricular classes. These performances are intermixed with performances by the Duke students as well as many collaborative performances with the No. 9 Middle School teachers. 

Opportunities for Autonomy / Private Space: Each day, quiet hours are held after lunch in school from 1:00-2:30 pm—a time in which students can read, rest, or work on their own projects. During the week, students will have two or three group commitments in the evenings, generally from 6:30-9:00 pm. There will also be downtime each weekend. However, participants are encouraged to join their host families for activities. No students are allowed to travel beyond Zhuhai City proper at any time.

Suggested Readings / Viewings:

“Young Chinese in urban China” by Alex Cockain http://search.library.duke.edu/search?id=DUKE005194045

“Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China” by Jung Zhang


China [videorecording] : a century of revolution http://search.library.duke.edu/search?id=DUKE003887306

China rises [videorecording] : a documentary in four parts http://search.library.duke.edu/search?id=DUKE003999948

The Chinese version of Twitter is also useful: http://weibo.com/

Suggested course work that may be of interest:

- 238  Modern China 1800-Present

- 494A Research Independent Study in Contemporary China

- Service Learning courses

Related Service Opportunities:

Project HOPE (Holistic Opportunities Plan for Enrichment): http://www.projecthope.org/site/PageServer

Duke China Care: http://www.duke.edu/web/chinacare/


DukeEngage in Zhuhai 2013 (student-produced documentary video) 

    • DukeEngage in Zhuhai, China