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Voices Of Diversity: Kennedy Chinese Class

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - China is the most populous country in the world with the second largest economy. That means there are limitless opportunities for orridor students studying Chinese.

Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School is the only high school in the Corridor that has Chinese classes. In fact, there are two teachers that offer classes every class period of the day.

Chinese language teacher, Dailin Williams, was born in China. Her counterpart, Mary Ervanian, studied the language while living in Taiwan. For Dailin, even after 26 years in the US, she is still learning English.

It's definitely interesting because not only does she teach us, but we teach her as well, Kennedy junior, Jordan Schwab said.

Dailin also commented on the mutually beneficial relationship.

Sometimes I do say something that's not grammatically right, or not very authentic. They will point it out, and I feel very grateful to them, Williams said.

For students, Chinese offers a completely different sentence structure than English. Its also a visual, rather than an audio language.

Its kind of an intimidating language for people who are just starting to learn it, and I think its the writing system, Ervanian said.
Its a challenge some of the students say they thrive on.
The conversation of the people, it's very fast, it's very staccato, Kennedy junior, Adam Burstain said.

For sophomore, Nina Yu, even though shes been raised by Chinese speaking parents, its still a challenge and a unique opportunity.

I think its good to know all diversity all cultures and ethnicities, and starting with learning the language is a great way to open up into that kind of diversity, Yu said.
Its a knowledge of that diversity that many of the students hope will help sculpt their futures.

I feel when applying for college or a job, showing that youve taken four years or three years of Chinese is really impressive, because its a rare thing to find, Kennedy junior, Myah McCoy said.

Ervanian explained that there simply aren't enough Chinese speakers to meet demand in the US, so students have a good shot at government sponsored scholarships to study in the US and abroad.

Jordan plans to help bridge that gap. She will be minoring in Chinese and majoring in special education. She hopes once she graduates to spend time in China teaching English. For Ervanian, who was once inspired to pursue Chinese by a teacher she had in high school, this is the full circle effect she was hoping for.

Then I feel that I have been successful as a teacher, Ervanian said.

Williams added, That's my biggest reward!

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