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Essays on Civic Engagement

This Is Your Democracy

Teaching Chinese and Building Community

Yuanli Wang

There are a lot of Chinese families in the United States. Many of them are first-generation immigrants whose children were born in America, but often the second generation does not want to learn or speak Chinese. Chinese parents want their kids to learn some Chinese to stay in touch with relatives or friends in China. They also want the next generation to know where they come from. They want to keep the home language, culture, history, and values in the diaspora. 

There is usually a Chinese school in communities where there are a lot of Chinese residents. I had a one-year experience working as a volunteer in this kind of Chinese school. Most of the kids were struggling with Chinese characters, since English is their native language and Chinese characters are so different from English letters. The teachers in Chinese school and the parents need to work together to keep the kids committed to learning Chinese.

 I learned that I can best be engaged with my community by providing important educational services. 

As a volunteer teacher in the Chinese school, I needed to prepare lessons and try to make them interesting and interactive. I also needed to work with the Chinese school administration and the parents to meet our teaching goals.

I spent a lot of time preparing the lessons, teaching, and communicating, but I think it was worthwhile. When I first arrived in Worcester, Massachusetts, I had no friends there. I missed speaking my home language and sharing the common culture and values. Luckily, I got connected to the Chinese community, and I could do something for the Chinese school. 

Each community has different needs. As a resident, we can be active in taking part in community service and try to satisfy the needs of the particular community. I learned that I can best be engaged with my community by providing important educational services.

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