Chinese Teacher Shares Language and Traditions of her Homeland
TEXAS – JANUARY 27, 2014 – Chen Chen, the new Chinese teacher
at The University
of Texas at Brownsville, arrived in Brownsville in time to
ring in 2014 at her new home. Chen will celebrate another new year – Chinese
New Year – on Friday, Jan. 31.
“I will tell my students about this important holiday
in China, about its significance and our traditions, such as returning to one’s
home for a reunion of relatives and sharing a feast of favorite foods,” Chen
Normal University in Xinxiang,
Henan Province, China, Chen is the 13th Chinese visiting
instructor to spend a year teaching Chinese I and II at UTB. Dr.
William Adams, Professor in the Department
of History, was instrumental in establishing the program after
being a visiting professor at HNU in the late 1990s.
Chinese Instructor Chen Chen hands out index cards with her students' Chinese names on Friday, Jan. 24, 2014.
Paul Chouy / UT Brownsville
“Dr. Adams and his wife, Roselyn, met me
at the airport and took me into their home for my first few days in
Brownsville, and they took good care of me,” Chen said. “I was deeply moved to
celebrate the New Year with their family. He and Roselyn are just like a
kind father and mother.”
Concluding her second week of teaching at UTB, Chen
said she is impressed with her students. She finds the beginners to be enthusiastic,
and she said those in Chinese II, who studied with her predecessor and colleague
from HNU, Zhang Shu-jing, appear
to have a good grasp of the basics and are doing well in reading Chinese
“My students are
warmhearted, and they have welcomed me to Brownsville,” Chen said. “They have
printed out the bus schedule for me; they have offered to take me places; in
fact, one student already took me to an Oriental market and to Wal-Mart.”
expressed a wide variety of reasons for taking the classes.
Jose Vergara said
he has a fascination with China. He grew up in Spain, came to Brownsville
because of a family connection and graduated from Premier High School in 2013.
“My mom took me
with her on a business trip to China when I was 12 or so, and ever since then,
I’ve been in love with China, so I want to take advantage of these classes to
get started on the language,” said Vergara, a freshman art major who is in
Freshman Carlos Camacho, a 2013 Porter High School
graduate, commented on the realistic value of learning Chinese.
“It goes well with my major, international business;
I think knowing Chinese will be helpful – after all, China is the leading
economy of the world now,” said Camacho, a Chinese II student.
Sophomore Ann Jacobo, a 2012 Pace High School
graduate, is looking at career possibilities that will require linguistic
abilities to complement her government/communications major.
“Chinese caught my attention when I was a kid,” said
Jacobo, a Chinese I student. “I want to work for the United Nations, perhaps in
foreign policy or translation.”
Freshman psychology major Sergio Gonzalez, a 2012 Hanna
High School graduate, expressed a fascination with China and the Chinese
language, like many of his classmates. Gonzalez said he thinks there may be
opportunities to combine his future expertise in child psychology research with
travel to China.
Jeffery Hung grew up in a home where Chinese was
spoken. He was four years old when he and his parents emigrated from Taiwan to Canada
and then the United States.
“I’m taking these classes to reinforce what I
already know; I would say my Chinese is ‘decent,’” said Hung, a senior at the Math
and Science Academy.
Early College High School students are in the Chinese II class.
Erick Hernandez, a BECHS senior, said he feels the
Chinese language study will help him be more competitive in corporate America.
Stephanie Garza, another BECHS senior, said she wants to travel to China, and she
loves history and is looking forward to taking Dr. Adams’ Asian History class.
As part of her responsibilities at UTB, Chen will
co-teach portions of that class with Adams as well as The First
Globalization: World History 1450-1750.
Chen, who teaches English to non-English majors at
HNU, is an adventurer; she has visited about three-quarters of the Chinese
provinces. While in the United States, she hopes to do some serious traveling
over the summer break, with Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
high on her list.
“If I have the time and the money, I would also like
to go to the west coast,” Chen said. “I hear San Francisco, Los Angeles and San
Diego are beautiful, and a friend told me I must go to Las Vegas.”
Thus far in her short time in Brownsville, she has
explored the downtown area, map in hand, seeking out the historical sites,
including Sacred Heart Church, Immaculate Conception Cathedral, the Stillman
Heritage Complex and several of Brownsville’s beautiful old residences. Chen
said she found it a bit humorous to see all the dollar stores on Elizabeth
Street filled with Chinese merchandise.
“My first few days here, it was raining and gray and
cold, but on Jan. 2, the day Dr. and Mrs. Adams helped me move into my
apartment, the sun came out, and I was able to really see my new home for the
first time,” Chen said. “I walked around the campus – it is so clean, blue
skies and green grass, so beautiful and quiet. I know this will be a good