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Case Study: Ke Yan
GKE-facilitated International Learning and Empowered Student Project
A Global Learning Project Linking a Professional Poet and University of Beijing Professor
with Writing Students in the United States

In this unusual project utilizing concepts of the GKE Learning System, American writing Chinese poet, author, and playwright, Ke Yan. students are linked with Ke Yan, one of China's foremost, female, Asian writers. Ke Yan, also a University of Beijing professor, interacts so powerfully and intensely with the students of Electric Soup that she releases the copyright on pieces of her professional work to the students to permit them to translate and to publish on-line in their literary magazine.

Concepts of the GKE Learning System are employed to create a distance learning version of the traditional writing workshop. As concepts of curricular writing and literature are covered, additional skills of cultural insight, electronic publishing, interviewing, management, leadership, and innovation are developed.
On-line, you may read the entire interview as well as listen to excerpts in Chinese and English.

Electric Soup
is a an award-winning, student-written, on-line literary magazine developed as a pilot project by Florence McGinn, Vice President of Research for GKE, with support from AT&T, AT&T Learning Network, GKE, ComWeb Technology Group, the Hunterdon Foundation, and Lucent. Electric Soup has won a NJ Best Educational Practices award and a NJ Association of School Curriculum Award. It was identified by Learning in Motion as one of the Ten Best Educational Sites on the Internet.

With facilitation from GKE President, James Chang, on April 27, 1999, HCRHS student editors had the opportunity to interview the renowned Chinese poet, author, and playwright, Ke Yan.

Ke Yan is a member of the Chinese Writer's Association and widely recognized for her children's literature and textbook writing. Ke Yan has also written and published lyrics, plays, novels, and even a script for a television series. As a prominent writer, she has had the opportunity to hold such esteemed positions such as vice- chief editor of Poetry
magazine, editor of People's Literature, vice president of the Children's Educational Society of Beijing, and national committee member of the Chinese Federation of the Art and Literature Circles.

The interview was conducted by Directing Editor Meghan Lembo. However, a HCRHS student translator, Pauline Chiang, from the high school's Chinese Language class interpreted the entire interview.

It is understood that you are in the United States writing and conducting interviews for your own work. Can you please explain the project you are currently working on?
I am working on a long novel titled, Cancer Club. I had cancer in 1981 and met a lot of other patients who wanted me to tell their story of cancer. So, I am writing a report giving the message, "cancer doesn't mean death." I published this in Beijing, but the people didn't like it there. By coming to America, I learned even more stories of cancer to add to my novel. I know that in America there are one hundred thousand cases of cancer, and the number is still growing, so there are a lot of people affected by it. Because of this, I decided to make the plot and setting of my novel in China and America. In my novel, I have life, death, and relationships that have dealt with cancer, in order to promote friendship between China and America. My main reason for coming to America is to obtain more research to finish my novel.

You have had a wide collection of works published, ranging from textbooks to lyrics. What do you find the most enjoyable to write
I like to write everything. Basically, everything I write is the same; however, I let the content decide which form it takes. There is so much ancient history to choose from in China, and many genres to choose from. Life is so varied and different; it makes me want to laugh, cry, etc. That is why I use all these different media to express my feelings. Regarding textbooks, the committee of art education (in China) picks whatever goes into their textbooks, and I am very honored to have them choose my writing to include. The entire country of China has the same textbooks, which is very different from America. Middle schools and elementary schools in China have the same texts; they are chosen by the Committee of Art Education, but colleges have more freedom to choose their texts.

When did you decide writing was going to be your career?
I was very little; my father was a writer and translator, and this influenced me. In high school, I had very good teachers, who also helped influence me. By the time I was 19, I formally decided to pursue writing, even though it caused me pain. This pain was the fear of not knowing if critics would accept it. Also, sometimes I write about things people don't want to hear. To be an honest writer, you must write about the truth; this is not always what everyone wants to hear.

Have you found any differences between the poetry written in China and the poetry written in the US?
There are a lot of similarities and differences. The life of the people in each country is different, so the poetry is different because it reflects different lifestyles. Poetry plays a big part in China's education, a lot more than in America.

When writing poetry, what types of messages do you try to get across to your readers?
I would like to convey my passions to people. People who read my work, can love life more. I write about children and peace and love. I would like people to realize that we are all one.

Who has been an influential role model in your life?
In middle school, one of my teachers said that society is evil, but you don't have to be afraid; as long as you are upright, you can overcome these things. Another teacher told me to love people and life. I was taught to love life and to warm people with love.

How do you feel being looked upon as a role model?

I feel like I am common, but when my books are translated into other media, I can affect more people's lives. (Editor's note: Ke Yan has had a video made reflecting her writings. This video is about violence, and the setting takes place in a rehab center for people, who have committed violent crimes.)

What words of wisdom could you impart to our readers who are interested in writing?
Teenagers never think that old people used to be young. When I was young, I had energy and wanted to change the world. I would write all my thoughts down in my notebook about how I wanted to change the world. One of my teachers wrote in the back of my notebook, "In order to write well, you have to learn to be a good person first." This is good advice. My advice to anyone is, "Read a thousand books and go a thousand miles."

With the further facilitation of GKE, Chinese poet and professor, Ke Yan, granted permission for her professional poetry to be published in Electric Soup. Electric Soup student editors were facilitated through the assistance of initial translations done by Ke Yan's grandson in California.
On-line at the above URL, you may read some of Ke Yan's poetry published in ELECTRIC SOUP.


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