Sharing Culture Through Theater with Beyond Borders at the Project Pengyou Courtyard

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Language barriers aren’t the only scary thing about living abroad – navigating small talk, slang, and subtle body language cues can all be difficult pitfalls for international students in America for the first time. We partnered with Beyond Borders: Linking Our Stories, a cross-cultural theater workshop aimed at preparing Chinese high schoolers to navigate those cultural subtleties in the U.S..

For five days, 8 internationally-bound Chinese high school students met with workshop organizers, Jun Chen and Dr. Kanta Kohhar-Lindgren, at the Project Pengyou courtyard to learn communication and collaboration skills that would help them succeed as cross-cultural communicators in the United States. Students developed their skills by conducting a storytelling and art project that benefits both international communities in Beijing and themselves.

Check out some of the photo highlights below:


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“I learned a lot from this experience. I made friends who come from different countries, and I recognized it’s good for me to know different cultures in preparation for study abroad. In addition, I have a new understanding of communication. Communication is not only oral, but also includes eye contact, body language and gestures.

What impressed me most was learning about meditation. It is a good way to reach a higher state of consciousness and a way of communicating with yourself.” – Sara Zhou

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“On the second day, we played theater games with people of different countries. We focused on nonverbal expressions across cultures, script analysis and held a play rehearsal. We shared a lot about cultural differences and how to express our ideas better in a cross-cultural setting, and I realized that being shy and afraid of making mistakes is the biggest communication barrier. If we communicate with openness and curiosity, cultural differences can be a good topic to open up a conversation.” – Luna Zhang

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“Performing the stories of my foreign friends and my classmates helped me related to them in a deeper way. I realized that empathy is crucial in communication.” – Raven Zhao

Through field trips, interviews, and interactive games, future international Chinese students worked to establish a dialogue with foreign communities in Beijing and build mutual understanding. The event culminated in a cabaret performance at the Beijing drum tower theater including comedy and dance.

We were thrilled to work with Beyond Borders in supporting such a great program, and we hope to work with them again in the future!


About the organizers:

The Program was co-organized by Jun Chen and Dr. Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren. Jun Chen served as the program manager of Future City Competition, a leading international teenage competition in design and engineering, in China during 2014-2016 and received a master’s degree in Cultural Studies from the University of Washington. Dr. Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren is a U.S. citizen and was an Associate Professor at the University of Washington. She lives in Hong Kong part time and serves as the Director of Folded Paper Dance and Theatre (Seattle/Hong Kong) which focuses on cross-cultural performances. The project team partner with Shunshun Education, affiliated to TAL Education Group which is a leading K-12 after school tutoring services provider in China, to recruit students. The project includes initial online preparation and a 5 day winter camp in Beijing.