Local students and educators welcomed Mount Airy City Schools Mandarin Chinese teacher Vicky Yang to the area Thursday night with a pig picking at the home of Polly and David Long.
Yang is scheduled to teach three classes of around 60 students this first semester. She said she was born in Mangshi in the Yunnan Province in Southwest China. Yang characterized the city as a small one, with a population of 300,000 people.
“The climate there is tropical and has many different kinds of fruits,” said Yang. “It never snows so I am looking forward to my first winter here.” She told the event’s participants she felt honored to have a chance to learn American ways while sharing Chinese culture.
Information supplied by Yang indicates she majored in teaching Chinese in college. After graduating from university, she taught Chinese in Thailand and planned a Chinese New Year celebration which she also hopes to do here.
“What I learned as a result of my three years in Thailand is the importance of communication between different countries and cultures. I want to introduce my country, my culture and my people to each of you while I learn from you about your country and culture,” she said.
Yang said another goal of hers was to “be a bridge that connects the Mount Airy community with the Chinese community, bringing understanding and communication to both.”
Board of Education Chairwoman Wendy Carriker said the board was excited to have Yang here and said she looks forward to students learning from her as she learns from them. Carriker said the effort could be a way to bring the two countries together. The language program is made possible thorough the North Carolina-China effort, which was launched in 2010 with a goal of increasing students understanding of China and its ability to communicate and collaborate with Chinese peers.
Superintendent Dr. Gregory Little characterized the effort as an opportunity for city students to understand they are a member of a much larger picture by learning the critical business language.
“We did our research with local business leaders and frankly I was surprised at the connections between many local businesses and China,” said Little. “I was surprised at all the local ties. The program is all about giving our students the skills to be a part of a global community.”
Little countered arguments teaching local students Mandarin Chinese is unnecessary since China begins teaching English to its kindergarten students.
“My response to this is why do they start teaching this so early? It’s because it gives their students an advantage. They can be more competitive, so when someone asks me why I say take a moment to consider and see they have already answered their own question.”
As a surprise for Yang, Forsyth County Chinese language program teachers Jessica Li and Summer Xing paid a surprise visit to the informal gathering.
Participating districts receive help to recruit guest teachers with additional program support from Hanban, which is a public institution affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education. Around 7,000 North Carolina students learned Chinese through the “Confucius Classrooms” program in the 2013/2014 school year, the fourth year of the initiative.
Yang is available to speak with civic organization or community events to speak about the Mandarin Chinese program at Mount Airy High School. Interested persons may contact Polly Long at 336-325-7269.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-415-4739 or on Twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.