The Long Beach Chapter of the US-China Peoples Friendship Association (USCPFA) had its annual scholarship award luncheon on June 2, at the Forbidden City Restaurant in Long Beach. The scholarship program has been in existence for a decade with awards to seniors at Polytechnic High School and students at Long Beach City College who have demonstrated excellence in learning the Chinese language.
Polytechnic High School is the only school in Long Beach offering the Chinese language in its curriculum. For more than 10 years, the Poly Chinese program has enrolled nearly 200 students a year in six daily classes, including an Advance Placement class. These classes also provide a training field for Chinese Teaching Credential candidates from California State University of Long Beach.
Minqi Zhu, PhD, a longtime resident of Signal Hill, is the director of this unique language program at Poly High School. He studied English Language and Literature at Fudan University, Shanghai, China, before advancing to his doctoral degree in East Asian Studies at the University of Arizona. Zhu has taught at Wharton-Lauder Institute of the University of Pennsylvania and at Long Beach City College. He serves as an advisory board member of the Confucius Institute at UCLA. He also won an award of Excellence from the Office of Chinese International Council for his acclaimed AP Chinese textbook Speaking Chinese Through Contextualized Dialogues.
The USCPFA has provided a platform for the students of Chinese at Poly High School to share what they have been learning in class. For example, at USCPFA meetings, they have modeled costumes of various minority groups of China, performed a mock Chinese wedding, demonstrated traditions of Chinese festivals, and given a play blending the two cultures by way of migration.
This year, the USCPFA awarded scholarships of $400 each to five students. The winners were Jenny Lam, Alexander Lim, Jenny Muk and Yvonne Wei from Poly High School, and Nguyen Ly from Long Beach City College. Each student gave their background story for deciding to study the Chinese language. These students will continue studying Chinese as they enter university programs at MIT, UCLA, UC Davis and CSULB.
Also on the program was the talk “Confucius Institutes and the Mandarin Movement” by Dr. Susan Pertel-Jain, executive director of the UCLA Confucius Institute. She described the varied activities of the 360 Confucius Institutes world-wide and emphasized their goal to improve understanding of different peoples and cultures.
As a finale on the program, Thandizar Easley, a Chinese-language student at Poly High School, played the keyboard and sang a song in Mandarin.