When it comes to the world, China has completed its emergence as a global player in everything from business to entertainment, commerce to culture.
At St. Michael-Albertville High School, however, China is just beginning to emerge as part of the school’s language arts program, so students and staff are using tonight’s commemoration of the Chinese New Year to spread the word about Chinese culture, language and curriculum.
The group will host “China Night” at the high school cafeteria, set for 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19. The event is orchestrated by the students and members of the club, but is open to all local families of any age. Kids, especially, are encouraged to attend.
“It’s really our chance to get the word out,” said Haixa “Sonny” Wang, who is in her seventh year at STMA High School as the lead instructor of Chinese. “This is the first time we’re going to get to do something like this, so we kind of want to make it a big deal.”
Wang applied for, and received, a Confucius Grant from the University of Minnesota’s language arts program. Those funds allowed the newly formed Chinese Club, including fourth-year Chinese student Megan Caldwell and Chinese III student Andrew Carbert, to organize a special celebration, which will include a Kung Fu, three kinds of chess/checkers, Chinese “hackey sack,” crafts, a ping pong tournament and plenty of information about China and Chinese culture.
“We had about 30 students at our first club night,” Caldwell said. “Really, this has been our main goal is to create an event where we can share our language and our culture. Spanish is, like at most schools, a much bigger program, so we felt like we needed something to grab some exposure.”
Chinese has been an elective at the high school for some time, and Caldwell and Wang have pushed, together, to expand the program over the last two years to junior and senior level classes. While it only grabs about 20 percent of the students who choose to take a foreign language as an elective, Caldwell and Carbert both said they found Chinese to be an important part of their future education.
“We’re both going into business, and everyone knows by now that China is a very big player,” Carbert, who plans to attend college in the fall, said. “So that influenced my choice very much.”
Caldwell, who said she’s planning on heading to Drake University in Iowa this fall, agreed with Chinese being a big part of her future business education.
“I saw it as a great challenge. To hear it spoken and to see the writing – you know it’s difficult. But it’s something that you need in today’s business world.”
Wang said more than 65 people have already signed up for tonight’s event, but plenty more are welcome. Future Chinese Club events – for students at the high school – will include a movie night, dance and ping pong tourney. Stay tuned to high school announcements for more information.