From Iowa to New Mexico to Maine to China

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Jing Zhang Director of Chinese Language-Culture Center & Confucius Classroom of Maine President of Bangor/Portland Chinese Language School Director of STARTALK in Bangor, Maine

The other day, I gave my son, Chris, and two of his friends a ride to the skating rink. On the way there, the two friends started speaking in Spanish, not uncommon in Hobbs, NM. After they were done, my son said “Hey, I’m bilingual, too, I speak Chinese.”

Yes, he does.

Chris will be in Bangor, Maine, (his fourth summer there) at the StarTalk Language Immersion Program for two more weeks and then traveling to China for his three-week study trip. He is already Skyping with his Chinese host family. As a family, we have all worked hard to help Chris achieve this goal.

(致谢 zhì xiè expression of gratitude) But I especially give thanks to my dear friends, Dr. Kesho Scott of Grinnell College, and Dr. Yusheng Wu, of University of the Southwest, for the inspiration provided to my son for this journey. Four years ago, Dr. Scott led a series of workshops here in Hobbs for a Black History Month Project for University of the Southwest. But with my son, she spoke about her annual trips to China to teach at universities in Beijing and Shanghai. That same year, Dr. Wu came to teach at University of the Southwest and where I was working at the time as Director of Public Relations. My son and Dr. Wu forged a friendship and graciously worked with Chris over the years, helping him practice Chinese.

These two people planted the seeds for a dream for my 15-year-old son with roots which reach clear around the world. He is showing his appreciation by growing…