Richter Documentaries
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Eating the Scorpion

Inspiring American teachers
Written, directed and produced by Robert Richter

A valuable way to introduce students and teachers today to the real China. It tells a story that puts a human dimension to the critically important American issue of the value of international understanding.

In the documentary we follow a group of American teachers—who teach their students about China—as they visit this Asian country for the first time. From historic sites to people's homes they confront their book knowledge with personal experience and discover a new passion for Asia. As the teachers experience this Asian nation we see how back in their classrooms this changes them, energizes their teaching and expands horizons for their students

The teachers in turn inspire their students with a desire for learning about China, to the point that the students are so eager for more of what they are being taught, they don't want to leave when the bell rings.

"Ideal in preparing teachers for a study tour to China..."
-Anne Prescott, Associate Director,
Center for East Asian & Pacific Studies, Univ. of Illinois

The documentary primarily tells the story from the points of view of two wonderful middle school educators: Michelle, a young teacher who had never before been overseas and eagerly soaks up everything; and Wanda, an older, more experienced teacher who enthralls her students with stories about China and many fascinating souvenirs she acquired there.

In China we follow the teachers to famous and not so famous locations and cultural experiences in Beijing (Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, hutongs), the Great Wall, Xian and its terra cotta warriors, a small rural village, Suzhou (canals and scholar gardens) and the futuristic city of Shanghai.

We also see them visiting a school where they relate to students, sharing a meal in a home, learning about daily life and making new friends.

We intercut between Michelle and Wanda opening up to China and teaching back home in America, where they bring awareness of the growing significance of China in the world, an open-mindedness about cultural differences, fresh knowledge and excitement for the subject to their students.

" is the teachers' enthusiasm which really grabs the students."
—Anne Prescott, Associate Director, Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, University of Illinois
Michelle takes up the challenge and orders a deep fried scorpion
Michelle takes up the challenge and orders a deep fried scorpion

The title "Eating the Scorpion" is symbolic of a breakthrough for Michelle that happens when she is challenged to eat a deep-fried scorpion at an outdoor night market.

As one of the other teachers describes the moment, when Michelle met the scorpion challenge she went through a barrier, no longer a small town girl, as she described herself at the beginning of the journey.

As the story unfolds, after the scorpion incident Michelle evolves into a citizen of the world who instills in her students understanding and acceptance of China's culture.

Study Areas: International Education, Asia Studies, China Studies, Education in American Society, History of China, Teaching Social Studies, Women in Education