Stratford Adds Mandarin Elective

This story is being typed on a Chinese-made keyboard, edited with a Chinese-made mouse, and saved on a Chinese-made hard drive .

Yet while the phrase “Made in China” can be found in nearly every Stratford classroom, Stratford students know little about the language and culture of one of America’s most important economic partners.

This will begin to change next week, when Stratford holds its first Mandarin class. The year-long elective is being offered through a partnership with the Confucius Institute at Wesleyan College.

“Knowing the Chinese language will give broader opportunities for students in the future since China plays such a major role in the business world,” Upper School Principal Ms. Margaret Brogdon said, adding that Stratford has been anxious to add a Mandarin class for a long time.

Three students have signed up for the course so far.

“Most of us have never really had exposure to the language and since I’ve already taken Spanish and I’m currently in Greek, I just thought it would be a fun thing to do,” said senior Alexandria Power, who is taking the class.

Brogdon said she hopes the course will introduce students to Mandarin and give them an idea of what it would be like to study the language in greater depth.

“Ideally,” she said, “we would eventually like to add more Mandarin classes that act like real foreign language classes in the future.”

In addition to learning about China’s culture, Brogdon also noted that students who complete the course will have the opportunity to travel to China next summer on a trip largely paid for by Hanban, an organization connected to the Chinese Education Ministry.

Power said her goal for this year is to gain a better understanding of the language and culture as well as to grasp the basics of the language. She also said that she would love to travel to China this summer.

 (Above, teachers from the Soong Ching Ling School observe Mr. Chris Loomis’ AP U.S. History class on Sept. 11. The teachers visited as part of Stratford’s new partnership with Wesleyan College’s Confucius Institute, which also includes a Mandarin language course.)