That Day We Were Tang Dynasty Artists

At Shanghai American School, we encourage students to see themselves as scientists, historians, and artists to actively engage in their learning.  Last year, several of our students channeled their inner Wang Wei by participating in a year-long Chinese painting and poetry slam sponsored by the Pudong Education Bureau. From our elementary CNC (Chinese National Curriculum) to high school IB HL Chinese students, our students learned how to decipher ancient Chinese couplets, capture the painting within the poem, and contend with native speakers from local schools in an online debate. We spoke with 3 winners from SAS about their artwork when the traveling exhibit recently came to Pudong campus. 

William, SASPD ‘30  

A previous trip to West Lake in Hangzhou was not only fun but also real-life inspiration for William in choosing a poem by Tang Dynasty poet-politician Su Shi to interpret for his watercolor.  “I drew my own thinking,” William says, “but used what I learned from art class.” What does he appreciate about his CNC Chinese class at SAS? “My Chinese teacher allows us to discuss when I make a mistake,” a perfect example of how we want our students to feel safe in taking intellectual risks. 



Oscar, SASPD ‘26 

Already a gifted artist, Oscar chose “Independence” by Du Fu, known as the Virgil of China, to bring verse to life in a painting. After learning poetic analysis and interpretation in seventh and eighth grades, Oscar says: “I first had to interpret the poem and transport my idea to paper for this art piece.” He credits his Chinese teacher with encouraging him to participate to grow his skills in Chinese. “Here the teachers respect us and care about us both academically and out of school.” 



Joshua, SASPD ‘24  

Though it’s been literally more than a thousand years since Liu Zongyuan wrote “River Snow,” Joshua finds the description of loneliness and isolation still to be relevant to the current pandemic times. For this IB HL (Higher Level) student, “the words of this poem bring out emotions in such a concise way and evoke a vivid image that is easy to draw.” He finds learning Chinese at SAS engaging in that he is learning through topics that interest him, such as culture and identity, so that “you are not just memorizing vocab.” 



Congratulations to our students on your paintings and your persistence in participating in a year-long multi-stage contest! 


More Featured Stories