A.L. grad to travel to village in China

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A 2009 graduate from Albert Lea High School is getting the chance to travel to China to conduct research this summer. Katie Nelson, 19, is a biology major at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph.

“I’ve never been abroad so I’m excited to learn about new culture and how to adapt to it,” Nelson said.

Nelson is part of a group that received a grant from ASIANetwork’s Freeman Foundation Student-Faculty Fellows Program. It will be researching folklore and storytelling.

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“Geng Village is a really small village with a huge concentration of storytellers in it,” Nelson said. “As times are changing younger people aren’t staying there to pass on the stories.

She said as people die in Geng Village the culture and stories are being lost with them. The group will be doing research and also helping preserve some of the stories.

Nelson will be traveling with fellow students Taylor Peterson, Shazreh Ahmed, Abbie Helminen and Philip Whitcomb. Professor Sophia Geng will be traveling with the students, and she is originally from China.

They will travel first to Beijing and Tianjin for a week to interview scholars and officials who are trying to preserve China’s rich storytelling past.

Next they will travel to Geng Village to do interviews and make observations for three weeks. The students will also be making a videotape of customs they see in the village.

When the students return they will write a paper on any observations they make, compile folklore stories they learn in Geng Village and make a documentary with their video footage.

Nelson is helping with writing the paper on what they learn. She is taking Chinese for her language requirement at school. She is excited for the trip but also has a few worries.

“Because I’ve never been abroad I don’t know how I’ll handle the food,” Nelson said.

She’s also the youngest in the group and not as advanced in speaking Mandarin. Nelson still thinks it will be a good experience and that she will learn a lot.

“I just think it’s a great opportunity because it’s something I’ve never done and probably something I won’t have the opportunity to do again,” Nelson said.