GREENVILLE — Two teachers from China have arrived in Greenville and are preparing their lesson plans for the start of the school year Tuesday.
Zu Shule, 32, of the province of Shanxi in the city of Shuozhou, arrived in Greenville on Aug. 3. She will be teaching Mandarin Chinese to middle and high school students.
“It’s been wonderful,” she said of her experience in Greenville.
Li Xin, 31, of the province Yunnan in the city of Kunming, arrived Aug. 12. She will be teaching math in Chinese to kindergardeners at Walnut Hills Elementary School for half of each day.
“It’s so exciting and wonderful,” she said about arriving in Greenville.
Both Zu and Li came to Greenville through the Chinese Immersion Program, which will allow two classes to be taught at the high school, three at the middle school and split classes at the elementary school.
Greenville Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Diane Brissette said the program is enrollment driven, so the more students who sign up, the more classes will be offered.
Greenville Public Schools received a $26,000 grant from College Board in partnership with Hanban/Confucius Institute in China to help fund Zu and Li to teach Mandarin to students.
“This is a great addition,” said Amber Guerreiro, a Spanish teacher at Greenville Middle School and mentor to Zu. “It puts us back in the race again.”
Li and Zu will be in Greenville for one year through the international education program. When the year is done and if all requirements are met, they can stay in Greenville for another year, if they desire.
Zu said they are only allowed to stay three years through the program. After the three years, new teachers will be sent to teach.
Zu has been studying English since she was 12 years old and is excited about being in the United States to learn more about American culture. Her dream is to become an ambassador.
“I am hungry to learn,” Zu said. “It will help me improve not only myself but I hope to improve the relationship with China and America.”
Through her time at Greenville, she wants to emerge the students in the Chinese culture to have them learn why the natives do what they do.
For example, Zu plans to decorate her classroom to highlight Chinese traditions, such as using a lot of the color red, which shows good luck.
She also hopes to learn something from her students, such as what they think about certain things.
“It will help me practice to be a better teacher,” Zu said.
“I am proud to be here and to work with the members of the school district who are working together to bring a great service to the kids,” Li said.
She began studying English since she was in middle school. She noted Chinese students are not learning English in elementary school.
This is not Li’s first time going to different countries to teach language. She has traveled to other other places to teach Mandarin to students.
“It offers the opportunity to students to build relationships,” Li said.
Li started meeting with students at Walnut Hills Elementary School last week during kindergarten camp. She has been working with kindergarten teacher Kristin Mier, with whom she will splitting class time.
“We have already been receiving a lot of positive feedback,” said Mier of the program.
Through the kindergarten camp, Li has already taught the students how to say words like “family” and has taught them some colors and numbers.