Mastering Mandarin

New Club Offers Cultural Interaction, Community

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Photo Courtesy of Eden Yu

Members of the Mandarin Club assemble dumplings at their Dumpling Social. The social, which occurred in October, is one of the club’s monthly special events, which all try to offer them the opportunity to engage in a special aspect of Chinese culture. “I’m interested in learning more about Chinese culture and Taiwanese culture in general, so it helps me see more into it,” senior Natalia Sanchez-Mejorado said. “[My favorite event] would definitely be the dumplings. We did it step-by-step, basically, and it turned out really good, and we also hung out, with the [club member’s mom] teaching us a few words.”

Jaden Kolenbrander, Editor

Foreign languages have a large presence in the school’s extracurricular activities, with clubs and organizations like the Spanish National Honor Society and Spanish Club allowing students to connect closer to these languages beyond what they learn in school. Those interested in the Mandarin language now have a similar opportunity in the form of the new Mandarin Club.

Founded by junior Bowie Wu and sponsored by Chinese teacher Joyce Chen, Mandarin Club was started as a club to introduce more people to the Mandarin language and culture, although it later expanded to accommodate those joining for cultural or community reasons. Planning began in the summer prior to the 2022 – 2023 school year, where various proposals for the club were considered before they decided on its current form.

“It was mainly trying to figure out how we were going to manage the club,” junior Eden Yu said. “We came to the conclusion that we wanted to focus a little more on languages, but we want to focus a little more on culture as well. It was a very interesting process because as students, we were doing this all by ourselves.”

I think students that are interested in Chinese culture and those looking for an opportunity to spend time with those they care about should all join the Mandarin Club. It’s a rewarding, casual, and enjoyable experience.”

— Nathan Li

At each meeting, members are brought in to participate in short Mandarin lessons, with the occasional Chinese history fun fact or meme incorporated into the presentation. Every month, the club also tries to hold an outside-of-school cultural activity, like their October Dumpling Social, where the group met at a club member’s house to make and eat dumplings, or their next-year plan of a hot pot to celebrate Chinese New Year.

“I’m interested in learning more about Chinese culture and Taiwanese culture in general, so it helps me see more into it,” senior Natalia Sanchez-Mejorado said. “[My favorite event] would definitely be the dumplings. We did it step-by-step, basically, and it turned out really good, and we also hung out, with the [club member’s mom] teaching us a few words.”

While the club has members such as Yu who take on officer roles in terms of helping manage the club by planning and organizing their events and meetings, the leadership of the Mandarin Club is more of a pioneer team where responsibilities and tasks are shared.

“It’s a lot of teamwork, more than anything,” Yu said. “Each person has a set of general tasks, but if there’s something that needs to be taken care of that another person can’t do – for example, it’ll be getting communication with APs or the principal for approval on something – then the task is delegated to that person.”

The club’s original goal of introducing more people to Mandarin and Chinese culture is still in full force, according to Yu, but another motivator was to encourage more people to take the Chinese language courses offered at the school. Currently, Chen teaches three periods of Chinese with the on-level and advanced classes combined due to the low number of students enrolled in Mandarin classes overall.

“I want to be able to share this with future students so that freshman year, they don’t have to think ‘Oh, I have to take Spanish because that’s what I took in middle school,’” Yu said. “You’ll be able to see how many other foreign languages you can try out. In the future, I also want to see if [I] can do something with Spanish or French as a whole language group. I kind of see it as a way of expanding my own interest in Chinese to the community.” 

Students who are interested in joining the Mandarin Club can contact Wu at [email protected] or Chen at [email protected] for more information. According to junior Nathan Li, anyone could benefit from learning a little more about Chinese culture. 

“I think students that are interested in Chinese culture and those looking for an opportunity to spend time with those they care about should all join the Mandarin Club,” Li said. “It’s a rewarding, casual, and enjoyable experience.”