Yu Ying heads to China: "We can win wars with our words"

Ready to go to China

by Wanda Lucas

Yu Ying students are headed to China and are organizing a fundraiser to help cover costs.

I had the opportunity to meet with a group of students from the Yu Ying Public Charter School and their parents as they plan their upcoming July trip to China. These energetic students eagerly responded to my questions about their immersion program and upcoming travels. It wasn’t the trip that most excited me about this group of playful 10 and 11 year olds -- who have been friends for many years -- what impressed me was the enthusiasm they shared about their education and experiences over the last seven years.

“We’ve been working very hard and want to achieve our goals. We can help make this country more diverse,” I was told by one student.

Others chimed in, “We can be a bridge between China and America and change the way people think. We can communicate and understand both sides. We can win wars with our words.”

Staying with a host family in China will allow them to learn how students live in another country and can open the door for a Chinese student to come stay with their family in America. Additionally, the students will be interviewed by CCTV, China’s equivalent of CNN. The students feel privileged to know Mandarin Chinese and understand it will open the door to greater possibilities for them later in life. Looking at them, I saw future attorneys, business leaders and educators. I was truly inspired because I felt there were no limits to what they could achieve.

Wanda talks with the parents as they work on trip preparations

The group of parents, all from the African diaspora, understand the realities associated with raising a child in today’s America. They’ve work hard to provide their children with a rigorous educational program and opportunities to set them apart from others. Wanting their children to learn a rare language for the United States, but one spoken by about 20% of the world’s population, was not an accident. Instilling service skills and attitudes in their children was also important. The students volunteer in varying activities including helping the Libraries Without Borders organization.

“We are creating global leaders and have high expectations for the children we are raising,” I was told. The parents shared examples of how Mandarin Chinese has become second nature with their children. Smiling, one parent shared, “I overheard my child having a dream one night. She was having a conversation in Chinese.”

“My daughter plays with her dolls in Mandarin,” said another.

What was designed to be a unique challenge has become life changing. The desire for them to make connections in other parts of the world is being achieved along with seeing them think differently, gain public speaking skills and develop an ownership to their education.

Since the school no longer funds the students’ trips, families are responsible for raising the money themselves. Collectively, the parents and the students have begun their fundraising campaign.

Rocking their way to China

They’re holding a fundraising reception, “Raising Global Leaders,” on Saturday, February 17th (during the Chinese New Year) at the Confucius Institute (1776 Massachusetts Avenue NW). The keynote speaker will be Sylvia Stanfield, the first African American ambassador to Brunei (1999-2002). The students’ band, the “Red Hot China Peppers,” will perform 3-5 sets as the evening’s entertainment under the direction of Mr. Mark Williams.

You can help support the students' trip to China while having a great night out by buying tickets on Eventbrite > 

The Confucius Institute graciously donated their space for the reception. Ms. Cheyenne Boyce, Program Associate, shared that she feels personally invested in the students’ success. “Studying Mandarin Chinese is strategic and these students are doing the work.”

They have also set up an ongoing fundraising effort using FundRazr for direct contributions. Consider a few bucks to help local DC students get the most from their China trip!

You can follow their progress on social media:

Wanda Lucas

As residents address the changing urban space and the craziness of the holiday season, family issues including parenting and caretaking, mental health needs may get ignored. That’s why Heidi Vanderwerff and Marjorie Strachman Miller started Kennedy Counseling Collective (508 Kennedy Street NW), with the goal of offering an inviting space that fosters a place of mental healing and health. They are committed to helping people find their voice along with the life they want to live as city dwellers.

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