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Staunton children learn Chinese culture from Mary Baldwin student
Staunton students and staff are being tutored this semester on a distant culture and its rhythms.
About 40 students and staff are learning about China''s Great Wall, Chinese cuisine, customs of the country and the nuances of the Chinese language.
The facilitator at the weekly sessions held at R.E. Lee High is Ally Wong, an Alaskan native who is fluent in Chinese. She is the first-generation American child of Chinese parents.
The program holds a more important mission for Wong, who is one of Mary Baldwin College''s school-based changemakers.
Changemakers are those students who are providing a community need in Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta County while at the same time learning, said Steve Grande, the director of civic engagement at Mary Baldwin.
Wong hopes to offer the students and adults in her class cultural and language lessons while at the same time polishing her teaching skills.
"I''ve never taught before. I''m an education minor," said Wong, who hopes to teach English in Japan after graduation.
Grande said another changemaker project has a Mary Baldwin student performing a greenhouse gas inventory for the city of Staunton.
"It is all over the community," Grande said. "It is a way of pulling together and addressing real community needs and connecting them back to the student experience."
Grande said the changemaker jobs require leadership skills not the typical clerical ones students might  get.
The project ideas come from Mary Baldwin''s faculty.
"Our faculty is so connected in the community," Grande said.
The Chinese culture and language weekly meetings are done to raise the awareness of middle and high school students in Staunton and the school district staff, said Steven Nichols, Staunton Schools superintendent.
Nichols said the material Wong is using was sent to the school district from the Chinese government.
The learning material includes story books, including one about the Great Wall, and other materials written in Chinese.
"We are trying to make this as much fun as possible," said Nichols.
One of those attending the Chinese classes is Staunton Schools Supervisor of Technology Tom Lundquist.
"This is a tough language and one I don’t understand," Lundquist said of Chinese.
As a fan of Chinese food and culture Lundquist said the opportunity to take the class was too tempting.
"It is not often we get such great diversity in the Staunton Schools," he said.
Grande said the hope is that the Mary Baldwin changemakers will expand their civic engagement to one of global engagement.?
(Source from newsvirginian.com)