Students made Chinese dumplings in Mandarin class
Happy Lunar New Year! Or “xīn nián hǎo,” as Wimbish World Language Academy’s Mandarin students would say.
Last Friday, the academy’s Mandarin program immersed the school in the festivities of the Year of the Dragon and hosted a Chinese New Year parade wishing strength, power and success.
From handmade dragons to traditional music and dumplings, there was no better way to highlight the richness of Chinese culture.
“It feels like joy,” said fourth grade Mandarin student Aaron Najera. “It’s fun getting to spread the cheer and celebrating different things that are happening all around the world.”
With more than 100 students learning the language, Mandarin is one of the school’s most popular programs.
“The kids love it, and they’ve been preparing for this forever,” said Wimbish principal Dr. Chelsea Kostyniak. “Mandarin is such a popular foreign language, and everybody wants to take it.”
That’s because Mandarin teacher Yona Zhang makes it so special.
“Mrs. Zhang is amazing,” Kostyniak said. “She prepares them to show off what they learn about in class every day.”
That’s why Zhang helped her students create their own dragon heads, lanterns and ribbons in preparation for the parade.
“I’m honored and blessed to be celebrating the Chinese New Year at my school,” Zhang said. “I’m so proud to see my kids having such a great time.”
And it didn’t end with a parade. Zhang also taught her students how to mix, wrap and eat traditional dumplings.
She even taught new superintendent Dr. Matt Smith and board members Justin Chapa and Brooklyn Richardson how to do it, too.
“It’s exciting to see our kids learn through sharing and culture,” Smith said. “The thing that strikes me the most is the pride that I see in these students’ faces.”
Fourth grader Mila Hernandez is the perfect example.
“We get to do fun activities with what we learn about in school all the time,” she said. “It’s really exciting.”
Drawing from her own experience, Zhang is grateful to be able to give her students the same opportunities she had.
“Not every school has a Chinese program,” Zhang said. “Learning English from China opened so many doors for me. My students will learn Chinese here, learn the culture and it will open many doors for them, too.”
Highlighting the importance of cultural exchange through shared learning experiences is what Wimbish is all about.
“There’s a feeling at this school that everybody belongs,” Smith said. “Celebrating different cultures as a community makes learning that much more fun!