March 26, 2007

Taking her culture to eager minds

By Kelsey Linden
Staff Writer

Entering the classroom with her books and notes, she smiles as her students greet with her with a warm welcome.

Their eagerness to learn is her reason for teaching.

“It is one of the greatest joys of teaching,” said Wang Qiuli.

Qiuli arrived in Delano Jan. 26. Since her home is in China, the opportunity to come overseas was a difficult decision for her because her whole family, and her whole life, is in China.

Qiuli grew up in a city with “many, many people.”

There, she went to college and majored in English and Chinese literature at Northwest University in China.

“I am the first of my family to come here,” she said

Qiuli is married, with a 4-year-old daughter. When asked how life has been without her family, she replied, “I miss my family very much, but they support me in all that I do.”

It ended up being a family decision; having a daughter at such a young age, Qiuli knew that it would be hard on her. Her husband also knew that his wife’s absence would mean that he would have to care for the child.

Typically in China, the wife is to care for the children, but Qiuli longed to experience a new culture. She always wanted to teach and, together, the family decided that teaching in the US was the best way to go.

Through e-mail and letters, Qiuli and her family communicate daily.

“Sometimes, it is hard to read the e-mails that my daughter writes to me, but just knowing that she does (write) means a lot to me,” she said.

Her husband is quite fluent in English. Qiuli laughed before she said, “I think he speaks better English than I do, and I’m the one over here.”

Qiuli’s contract states that she will be here for 18 months. When asked if she planned to go back home and visit, she said she was unsure at this time, but hopes to see her family soon.

Experiencing a whole new culture has both surprised and made Qiuli welcome.

For instance, the Chinese do not eat raw vegetables, ever. The first day she arrived, she was shocked to bite into a carrot that was hard and cold. After a few weeks, the raw vegetables just became a part of her life.

Qiuli also added, “I think I can adjust very well to the United States food. I like healthy foods, like Subway.”

Also, she loves the clean air feeling of Minnesota that most cities in China do not have.

“The sky is so blue here,” she said of the US. “It doesn’t look like that in my city. Although it is very cold here, the snow is very beautiful and clean.”

Qiuli is currently living with a host family. She holds the Kopp family in very high regards.

“I can’t even thank them enough,” she said. “I don’t know how to say it because if I say it, I feel that it’s not enough for what they have done for me. They are very caring, and they treat me like I’m one of the family.”

She loves the family environment and she loves the children in the school.

“These students are very eager to learn, and it’s so nice to see that. They are very bright and they listen well,” she said about students at Delano Schools.

Qiuli currently teaches elementary and middle school students. As far as her curriculum goes, she has begun teaching the students basic chinese greetings and phrases.

“They are too young to learn the details of the Chinese character. It is very hard – you have to start small,” she said, adding the students already know the Chinese alphabet and the Chinese numbers.

Qiuli has also directed special attention to the Chinese culture.

“It is very different from the United States. It is good for the students to recognize the difference,” she said.

When holding up the flashcards in class, she is amazed at how quick to answer the students are, and how much they do remember.

“The students have learned the material much quicker than I expected,” she said.

Qiuli believes the Chinese language is one of the most difficult languages to learn, but she thinks that English is also very hard. Even though she studied English in college, she still feels that her English will get better, and has improved especially over the last few months of being in Delano.

Over the next year, she hopes that her English will improve even more. Even though she is teaching the children, she believes the children are teaching her, too.

As far as her future goes, Qiuli said she is just happy to be here doing what she loves, teaching.

“It’s a new experience that I will treasure deep in my heart forever,” she said.

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