American Student - Chinese View

October 10, 2012

American student in a Mandarin Chinese school in Asia

At a time when Chinese students are flocking to U.S. Colleges and rich Chinese love American private high schools, it might seem strange that we are  
" worldschool " educating our American child as a multilingual global citizen including spending time in a private Mandarin school in Asia.

I actually think it might be part of the same pattern of teaching our kids the best of both East and West traditions and multicultural, multilingual language advantages as well as the importance of raising a global kid in today's shrinking world. There is not just one way to do it. As both the Wall Street Journal and The Economist point out, more Americans are learning Mandarin in Asia. We can really relate to this statement in the first article:

"Chinese parents will sacrifice almost anything for their child's education. They realize firsthand, "History is a race between education and catastrophe," as H.G. Wells put it. In China, the disposable income of middle-class families is more likely to be spent on education than leisure or entertainment."

11 year old Mozart's Mandarin school students puts out quite an amazing 80 page, mostly all color, slick magazine a few times a year, mostly in Mandarin Chinese, but a few English pages. As the only Caucasian she is often in the magazine in photos like other students, but this latest issue did a several page interview on her with ten photos, about her interesting and unique life.

I thought you might enjoy some of the quotes from the Chinese perspective from the older senior students who wrote it.

" a normal young lady who leads an interesting life filled with adventure. You will never get bored listening to her interesting stories about her life experiences. As the only and first American at XXX school, this pretty young lady has caught the attention of all teachers and students from the very first day of school.

She was born in California in 2000. Her beautiful name was given to her 10 years before she was born. "My mother would have named me Traveller if I was a boy".

Our American daughter enjoying her friends at her Mandarin school in Asia

Like most media, they got some things wrong, which was a good lesson for Mozart to learn, rarely does ANY media ever get the full story. Even history is not what happened, but what was written down and all writers bring their own prejudice to a story.

I think some of it was wrong because they just couldn't wrap their brains around our lifestyle, so changed facts to what made more sense to them. They said DaVinci was Spanish and I American, because that probably made more sense with him talking to her in Spanish as a baby or her going to school in Spain.

" ...lives in an open-minded family which grooms her to have a completely different lifestyle from others. Her father is a retired businessman while her mother is a blogger who writes about travelling experiences.

It is interesting that her friends may sometimes find her lifestyle beyond ones's imagination. For example, her friends doubted that she had never had an injection before. Her parents never caned her. When she misbehaves her parents will talk to her- reasoning out what her actions would entail.

Of course she is a good girl and she seldom creates trouble for her parents. Also her mother doesn't allow her to consume junk food or fast food. Instead her mother always cooks healthy meals for her and her family."

Although they did get us visiting 44 countries on 5 continents right, they were confused and said that we traveled Europe for a few months by bus and train.  The idea that we have been traveling non-stop for seven years all over Europe and the world, is probably hard for a 17 year old who has never left her country to understand. And one doesn't see any motorhomes in Malaysia. Funny that they are quite puzzled by our not doing any vaccinations, not using caning for discipline and prefer to cook our own food instead of junk food or night markets which are so popular here.

"The reason her parents chose Penang is because they want her to learn Chinese. As we know, Malaysians speak multilanguages including Chinese and English. Therefore, her parents thought it would be the best place for her to learn Chinese.

"...has made a marked improvement in the speaking and writing of the Chinese language. She is a talented and friendly student so there is no doubt that she has many friends at XX high school. Her amazing personality and interesting travelling experiences are also something that makes her special!"

There is more of course, but I thought I'd just share a bit for the record and let you hear the Chinese perspective about our stay.  Not unlike the day she won the elecution contest to many hoots and hollers of support, she was surprised to get a ton of attention on the day that the magazine came out last week. Her friends were happily teasing her and treating her like a celebrity, but things are now back to normal.

Are you surprised by the Chinese perspective? What do you think we can learn from one another?

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Hi Jeanne,
I know you've probably mentioned this before but do you have to pay for this school or the one that Mozart went to in Spain? I like the idea of settling down in one place and getting my child immersed in a school - was curious how it works. If you have a post you rather send to me, I'd appreciate it!


Jeanne @soultravelers3

Hi Anne,

I am going to write a post soon about enrolling in foreign schools. It is in my blog que...just haven't had time to get to it.

There was no cost in Spain as it was a public school. Here in Penang she could not go to a public school as we do not work here nor do we own a second home.

Thus, we went to the private Chinese high school as I have mentioned before in the posts linked above.

The school tuition for this private school is about 300 dollars a month which is pretty typical for the Mandarin high schools here, although the English International schools are much more.

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