Diversity in China

President Of 100,000 Strong Foundation Carola McGiffert Explains How Teachers Will Get 1 Million U.S. Students Learning Mandarin By 2020

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Can 1 million American schoolchildren learn Mandarin over the next five years? Carola McGiffert, the woman charged with the task, is betting on it.

In late September, President Barack Obama unveiled the 1 Million Strong initiative, which aims to increase the number of U.S. children learning Mandarin in school from 200,000 to 1 million by 2020. The announcement follows the launch of the 100,000 Strong Initiative in 2009, which successfully increased the number of Americans studying abroad in China to 100,000 since the program began — up from just 13,000 during the 2007-2008 school year.

McGiffert, president of the 100,000 Strong Foundation, which was formed in 2013 to oversee the eponymous initiative, is also leading the new 1 Million Strong push. The goal is to get 1 million children in grades K-12 on the path to learning Mandarin so they’ll gain an understanding of both the language and Chinese culture. We sat down with McGiffert to learn more about how she plans to take on this ambitious goal.

Give us a broad overview of this new initiative.

Last fall, President Obama announced that the 100,000 Strong student goal had been reached, but obviously, there’s much more work to do. When we learned that Chinese President Xi Jinping was coming for a state visit in September, we started working with the White House to figure out the next big goal, one that is ambitious but reachable and worthy of presidential attention.

Whether you’re a journalist, or a diplomat or a business person, we want to make sure that our young people in all of these fields have the ability to work with Chinese counterparts and competitors.

Why Mandarin? What’s the point?

The view right now is that the China-U.S. relationship is in a really tough place, and will be marked by contention for the foreseeable future. That means we need to learn how to manage it, collaborate where possible, and manage that discussion so that it does not spiral in a negative direction when our interests are different. Contention and competition is one thing, conflict is another, and we can’t go down that road.

The goal is to make sure there are young people who understand the strategic importance of this relationship and can work on those issues and understand the huge role that China plays in our economy.

When I heard about this initiative, the first question that popped into my mind was: Who is going to teach these Mandarin classes?

We rely heavily on the generous support of the Chinese government, which sends us hundreds of teachers every year. While we are deeply appreciative of this and want it to continue, it’s not enough. It’s never going to scale to be able to meet the demand. We will be working with organizations like ACTFL, the American Council On The Teaching Of Foreign Languages. This is what they do — they train and support the training of foreign language teachers.

I learned that you don’t have to be fluent in a language to be an effective language teacher.

Is that a good thing?

I think it’s a good thing, because it opens the door for more young Americans who are highly proficient. It creates opportunities for them to enter the teaching field in Mandarin. Perhaps they’re not teaching the most advanced classes. I think that’s one way to get a lot of young people right out of college and graduate school to be excited about becoming a teacher and using their Mandarin skills.

How are you going to decide where these teachers are placed?

A critical component of this is our network on the state and local level. We’re going to start with a handful of partner states where we can pilot this effort, both in terms of testing and implementing curriculum as well as teacher placement. We will be coming out with those states soon, but they’re geographically diverse, led by both Republicans and Democrats, often where the Mandarin language has already been noted as a priority in the school system.

How will you make sure these classes are equitably distributed among rich and poor school districts?

From the outset of this initiative, diversity has been a top priority. It has always been about not only increasing the number, but diversity, of young Americans who study abroad in China, and it’s the same for the language component — if not even more so. Frankly, the more affluent districts, particularly in suburban areas, they already have Chinese language classes, so the need is less there. I really do think that where we are value added is in underserved and underrepresented communities.

You’re trying to get 800,000 more K-12 students in Mandarin classes. Does that sound crazy to you? 

It sounds ambitious. It does not sound crazy to me. Any goal that’s worth having has to be big. We didn’t go into this sort of just picking a number out of thin air, even though 1 million sounds nice. We really did work with experts in the field in terms of K-12 Mandarin language learning, and feel very confident that if you bring all the right players and pieces together, we could make this happen.

(repost from Huffington Post)

One-Third of US International Students are Chinese

Chinese StudentMany Chinese students in the US paid close attention to President Xi Jinping’s visit. The surge in the number of Chinese students has become a nationwide trend in the US, making up about a third of all international students studying in the country.

100K Strong Signature Partner University of Iowa uses educational exchange to build positive relations between the US and China! Watch theCCTV clip below for more. ‪#‎加油‬ ‪#‎100KStrong‬


OTW’s 6 Reasons Why You Should Learn Mandarin

PAASSC is always excited to share reasons why your child should learn Mandarin. Check out this video from Off The Great Wall. Here are 6 reasons why they believe you (your child) should learn to speak Mandarin.

How China’s Love Affair with U.S. Private Schools Changes Both of Us

Middle school students attend lessons ahead of the upcoming college entrance exam at a temporary classroom in Anxian county


As Chinese students flood private American high schools, aided by high-priced “consultants,” they are changing concepts of success and security back home, and leading ambitious schools to seek out more of the eager (and often full-paying) mainlanders.

When 16-year-old Zhao Weibo flew in from China to tour the U.S. east coast with his father, Zhao Jun, they didn’t visit the Statue of Liberty or the Washington Monument. They wound through New England historical villages and affluent suburban towns, in search not of photo opportunities or souvenir shops, but high schools. Zhao Weibo, currently in his last year of junior high school, wants to attend a private high school in America next year. “I like what I heard in China about American private high schools. I like their education style. I think it will be good for my future,” he told me.

In the past few years, Chinese students have been flocking to American colleges, anticipating a better education, greater opportunities, and prestige. Last year, 157,588 Chinese nationals studied in U.S. colleges, a 23% increase from the year before. Now, Zhao is part of a booming trend of Chinese students who decide to leave their country’s schools for America’s before college. Their number is growing even faster than China’s GDP. According to the U.S. Department Homeland Security, only 65 Chinese students studied at American private high schools in the 2005-06 academic year. By 2010-11, the number had grown by a factor of 100 to 6,725 students.

Just a few years ago, American private high schools seemed as distant to Chinese families conceptually as they are geographically. On Zhao Weibo’s application list is Deerfield Academy, where I studied from 2005 to 2007. When I applied, I had to fly three hours from Beijing to Hong Kong for the mandatory interview; the 600-student boarding school tucked in rural Massachusetts didn’t bother to hold information sessions on the mainland. China, though the world’s most populous country, didn’t have enough interested students. When I eventually decided to attend, my classmates were baffled. Parents’ friends urged me to reconsider. Why give up a coveted spot in a competitive Chinese high school, they asked, in exchange for a school of unknown reputation thousands of miles away?

Middle class Chinese families don’t see it that way anymore. American high school diplomas are the new must-have for the upwardly mobile. Thousands of miles away, U.S. private schools are adjusting accordingly. Deerfield and other well-known private schools started hosting annual admissions tours in mainland China, attracting crowds of hundreds at each stop. The Association of Boarding Schools, an organization with roughly 300 member schools, has partnered with a Chinese education consulting agency to organize large school fairs in Beijing and Shanghai. In six years, boarding schools like Deerfield and The Hotchkiss School in Connecticut reported a ten-fold increase in the number of Chinese applications. Each received less than 20 applicants in the 2005-2006 academic year and more than 200 in 2011-2012. If they were all accepted, the schools would be one third Chinese. “It is really just incredibly explosive,” says Patricia Gimbel, Deerfield Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid.

Four years of private American high school education can cost around $200,000, a considerable sum for American families, and even more for a family from China, where average wealth is about one fifth as in the U.S. However, China’s many newly minted millionaires see it as a worthy investment and a reliable path to an even higher goal: Ivy League colleges. In fact, the phenomenon reflects more than just the rising economic prowess of China’s middle class. It is also a lens into their complicated and often conflicting psychology: increasingly ambitious and outward-looking, at once sophisticated and perhaps a bit naive, they seem driven by a combination of faith in China’s future and distrust of its present; a belief that education abroad will translate into success at home. But, dazed by the new emerging opportunities and eager to follow the latest trend that promises them long-term security, both the parents and their children sometimes get something very different from what they’d hoped for.

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Every year in March, affluent Chinese families fill the reception halls of Qide education consulting agency’s 20-plus offices. The application deadlines …

Click here to read more.

Why Chinese is Easy to Learn

15 Reasons Why Learning Chinese Is Easier Than English

It’s (almost) as easy as 一,二,三.

Reprinted from www.miparentscouncil.org

1. Mandarin does not give a damn about tenses.

Mandarin does not give a damn about tenses.

There are none!

2. The alphabet is totally phonetic.

The alphabet is totally phonetic.
Scott Meltzer / publicdomainpictures.net

It’s called Pinyin and it makes the ABCs look pretty lame.

3. It doesn’t have that many combinations of sounds.

As opposed to thousands in English.

4. Mandarin ain’t got no time for too many syllables.

Mandarin ain't got no time for too many syllables.

The majority of words only have one or two syllables.

5. You can usually understand people even if you can’t make out the tones.

You can usually understand people even if you can't make out the tones.

Tones = inflections. You can still figure out what people are saying through context.

6. You could even just learn spoken Chinese with Pinyin and be illiterate.

15 Reasons Why Learning Chinese Is Easier Than English

If you want a quicker route. (Note: NOT promoting illiteracy here, just sayin…)

7. Don’t like articles? GREAT! Mandarin doesn’t either.

Don't like articles? GREAT! Mandarin doesn't either.

There are none.

8. Nouns don’t have plurals.

Nouns do have “units” that you have to remember, but kiss those -es’s goodbye.

9. OR genders.

OR genders.

There are gendered pronouns (like he/she), but that’s about it. China thinks that pineapple should have a choice whether it’s male or female.

10. All sentence patterns are fixed.

Subject + time + location + verb + object all day every day.

11. Vocabulary makes more sense.

12. Mandarin and Cantonese characters are written the same.

Mandarin and Cantonese characters are written the same.
Stephen Shaver / Via thirdage.com

Killing two birds with one stone AMIRITE?

13. Numbers are used wayyyy more effectively and efficiently.

Numbers are used wayyyy more effectively and efficiently.

Months, for example, are just number + word for month. So January is 1 month, February is 2 month, etc.

14. You don’t necessarily have to worry about dealing with different dialects.

You don't necessarily have to worry about dealing with different dialects.

Though people will talk smack behind your back if you don’t speak Cantonese in Hong Kong or Hakka in a Hakka neighborhood, almost everyone understands Mandarin.

15. Some words actually look like the thing they describe.

Some words actually look like the thing they describe.

It’s kind of like reading a picture book. Ish. Which is always cool.

Convinced? Check out some free online Mandarin tutorials here.

Beijing’s First African Hair Salon

Who knew that a black hair salon could create a lot of buzz  — especially in a country where most of its patrons are not black.

Beijing Salon










Martha Makuena is credited for starting the first black hair care salon in Beijing, China, an East Asian country that she and Paul Luyeye migrated to from the Congo in 1999. Makuena has no regrets about moving to the country and has found ways to combat some of the challenges that presented themselves to her along the way. One of those challenges was the fact that she couldn’t find any place in Beijing where people were capable of styling her hair.

So, she started her salon and has been scoring big from non-black customers. In an interview with BBC, Makuena described how Asians come to her salon to pick up black hair-dos because of their uniqueness.

She says that these patrons come in and say, “I want to look cool so they come to braid their hair.”

Makuena who learned to speak Chinese fluently, has also had to overcome the stigma of her skin as a business owner, claiming that “language” is the most important aspect about doing business in China and setting residents at ease about her work.

“People when they look at Africans they think about bad things,” Makuena said. They think that some Africans set up shop, come for a second, and disappear, taking advantage of China’s economy for a passing moment. However, her determination to create a business in the most unlikely of places has paid off for her. Her skin color no longer creates issues or resistance of customers.

“They don’t just see me as African, they see me as a person doing businesses.”

“They are respecting me and the way I am.”

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