Edison has offered Chinese classes to their students for close to twenty years. For the last seven years, those classes have been taught by Qi Groves.
“I am blessed. I have a lot of students working really, really hard,” she said. “As a Chinese teacher, I know how hard it is. I got lucky and my first language is Chinese. They are so brave. They did really, really well.”
There are seven classes available to students. Two middle school classes and five high school classes, including Chinese I-IV and AP Chinese. Qi’s goal in these classes is to make sure students are truly proficient in the language.
“I want to teach them real Chinese. Culture is fun but teaching culture is to motivate them to learn the language,” she said.
The firm but supportive atmosphere of her classroom has proven to be successful. Some of her students are up to level two and three on the Chinese proficiency test, which is college-level knowledge. They will be able to use that certification on resumes to demonstrate their skill level.
“China is a big market. It’s a good program, and it’s good for their future. I want them to open their mind and open their door for another world,” said Qi.
9th grader Cesar Pacheco is taking full advantage of the opportunity.
“I thought Chinese would be one of the most useful languages to learn since China has a population of like 1.3 billion. It opens up a lot of opportunities for me," he said.
Cesar is currently taking Chinese IV. He is fluent in Chinese, Spanish, and English.
“I’m trying to build up useful skills,” said Cesar.
Qi does incorporate cultural elements into her lessons. Students sing songs, practice calligraphy, and learn about tai chi and kung fu. She taught them how to make lo mein and fried rice leading up to Thanksgiving break. She gave students an opportunity to earn bonus points by using what they learned to cook for their families.
“It’s an important lesson in Chinese culture to honor parents to thank them for all their hard work for you,” said Qi.
Dax, one of her students, said learning how to make lo mein was his favorite part of the class. For Jimmy, it was learning about Chinese medicine. Scotlin said she enjoys Chinese fashion, art, and architecture.
In July, Qi’s students will have the opportunity to experience Chinese culture firsthand. Through the OU Confucius Institute, any student that is 15 to 18 years old will have the chance to visit Beijing and Shanghai.
“I’ve only ever grown up in Tulsa. I’ve gone to Cozumel and Florida. China is a whole different level. I’ve always wanted to go to Asia, and this is my chance,” said Jimmy.
While the trip is offered at a lower rate for students, it still isn’t cheap. So, Qi organized a fundraiser to make it easier for her students to afford the two-week tour. At the January fundraiser, attendees enjoyed authentic Chinese food, games, and performances in celebration of Chinese New Year. There is still plenty of money left to raise though. If you would like to help out, contact Qi at firstname.lastname@example.org.