LOS ANGELES, July 21 (Xinhua) -- An authentic Chinese garden in Los Angeles
has become a base for teaching Chinese culture under a program funded by the
U.S. Department of State.
A group of 12 students in an intensive language class offered by Teaching
Chinese Resources of the StarTalk program concluded their 5-week summer language
classes Tuesday by giving tours in Chinese and English of the Huntington's
Garden of Flowing Fragrance, or Liu Fang Yuan in Chinese.
The program is designed to encourage more Americans to learn critical
languages such as Chinese, Arabic, Hindi, Persian and Urdu.
The 12 students have spent about three hours every day in the past five
weeks to explain the meaning of different structures in the garden to hundreds
of visitors who came to visit the largest Chinese garden in Southern California.
Steven Liu, a Chinese student from the nearby San Marino High School , said
he was born in the United States, but he has attended Chinese schools to learn
Chinese in the past eight years.
"My parents want me to learn the Chinese language and know more about the
Chinese culture. I have learned quite a lot here in the past five weeks," said
For example, he said, there are many pine trees in the garden, and "I
learned that Chinese like pine tree because it symbolizes the character of
perseverance and courage under hard conditions. People like bamboo because it is
evergreen and would bend under strong wind but would never break, that's the
spirit of endurance."
The five-week program is offered free of charge to local high school
students. As students worked to improve their Chinese language skills, they also
received training to give bilingual tours in the garden.
Tuesday's presentation by the 12 students showed that they are able to lead
groups of visitors around the garden and explain to them, both in Chinese and
English, the cultural significance of the garden and its features.
Garden of Flowing Fragrance formally opened to the public in February 2008
after many years of construction by Chinese architects.
The garden's first phase construction, which costs 18.6 million U.S.
dollars, was powered by a landmark partnership between the Huntington Library
and the region's fast-growing and increasingly influential Chinese American
Since the garden first opened to the public, it has become a base to teach
the Chinese language and Chinese culture, said Sue Lafferty, Director of
Education from the Huntington Library where the Chinese garden is situated.
Besides the five-week summer language class, at least one class would be
opened in each month to focus on the Chinese culture such as the Chinese
painting or Chinese art.
Lafferty said thousands of people have visited the Chinese garden, and to
her surprise, many Chinese have come to visit the garden, which she thinks is
good because they can learn more about the Huntington Library.
"It is a two way learning," She said.
Lafferty said the Huntington Library is going to start construction of the
second phase of the Chinese garden once the initial fundraising goal of 4
million dollars is reached. However, she said, the total budget for the second
phase will reach 22 million dollars.
To make the Chinese garden authentic, construction of the second phase will
be completed by architects from China, she said.
She pointed at the rocks in the lake and tiles of the roof and said that
those were 100 percent manufactured in China.
The Chinese garden's first phase includes a 1.5-acre lake, seven pavilions,
five hand-carved stone bridges and a canyon waterfall set against a scenic
backdrop of the San Gabriel mountains .
The Huntington Library, founded in 1919 by Henry Huntington, is one of the
world's greatest cultural, research and educational centers. Nearly half a
million people from all over the world come to visit the library every year.
More than a dozen specialized gardens are arranged within the park-like
lawns in the library. The Desert Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden
and the Chinese Garden are the most remarkable ones.