First Day of School at Azevada Elementary School

Our First Day of School story in tomorrow’s paper will be about Day 1 of the new Mandarin Immersion program at Azevada Elementary School. I got to talk to several of the parents and watch the teacher teach simple phrases in Mandarin and how explain the important stuff, like how to get to the bathroom, in English.

It was intense. One boy couldn’t stop crying. At one point there was a knock on the door. He brightened up and walked toward the door, but when he saw that it wasn’t his mom, he started crying again. The teacher handled it well (the kid later calmed down); I never realized how tough it must be to teach kindergarten.

Interesting to talk to the parents about their experiences as kids in Saturday Chinese language schools. I thought Hebrew school was bad, but Chinese school sounded even worse. At least we got money for our troubles.

School Board member Ivy Wu gave me a quick Chinese lesson this morning. It turns out when former education reporter Linh Tat taught me to say “My name is skinny white guy,” in Cantonese, she used the derogatory term for “white guy.” It sounds like “g-way-lo,” which I guess translates to ghost, but is used like “Gringo.” Shame on you, Linh.

Here’s a quick video of a lesson taken from far away, since some parents didn’t want their kids photographed.

Matt Artz

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