Foreign visitors look forward to volunteering at First Night

Sunday, December 31, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:58 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Five visiting Chinese scholars have signed up to be First Night volunteers as children’s art teachers, assisting younger children with art projects and cleanup.

As English educators in China, they hope their interactions with Americans during the annual festival will improve their English and give them a glimpse of U.S. culture.

The five teachers — who arrived in Columbia in mid-November — are colleagues at Chongqing Institute of Technology in the Chongqing province in western China. Two are associate professors and three are lecturers in English education. The group is spending three months in Columbia as research assistants at MU’s College of Education.

“It’s our first time to live in America,” Zhaoyuan Zhang said. “We really wonder what the First Night is like.”

Organizers are expecting 13,000 people at this year’s First Night celebration in downtown Columbia and neighboring Stephens College. Leigh Nutter, volunteer coordinator for Columbia, said more than 90 people have signed up to volunteer at this year’s ballroom gala-themed festival.

“This year is the best shape we’ve ever been in,” Nutter said.

Hong Luo and Bo Wen said they looked for volunteering opportunities through MU’s Asian Affairs Center when they heard about First Night.

The group is excited about First Night, but they have some worries, too.

“Frankly speaking, our listening comprehension is not good enough to catch every word of the Americans,” Wen said. “Most Americans know we are foreigners and usually slow down their speech. But the children would not be considerate enough to slow down for us.”

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.