Faculty members are, from left, Peimin Ni, Shinian Wu, Lihua Huang, Yi Zhao, Wei Gu, YongLei Tao, Yan Yu and Patrick Shan.
More than a dozen faculty and staff members took part in a celebration of a decade-long partnership with the Grand Rapids Chinese Language School at an event April 16.
The event was intended to celebrate community and university collaborations and allow language school volunteers and students to show their appreciation for the support Grand Valley provides to the school through physical space for classes and time volunteered by faculty and staff members.
The school has held classes at the Pew Grand Rapids Campus for years, and volunteers from the school also take part in Grand Valley cultural events throughout the year.
Organizers said the highlight of the event was presenting a donation from the Chinese Language School to Julie Guevara, faculty director for the social work study abroad program in El Salvador. Guevara will get the donation to an organization that works with survivors of human trafficking.
Principal Xun Yan said the Chinese Language School considers itself part of a much larger community.
“We hope to promote mutual understanding among the people of different cultures,” Yan said. “Professor Guevara’s program has helped students to learn about and experience other cultures and it has also been an act of humanity to help those who need it the most.”
Yi Zhao, associate professor of political science, is a volunteer with the school. He said he thinks the collaboration between the school and the university is beneficial because the university gets access to Chinese instructors who are native speakers of the language, as well as experts in Chinese culture through the volunteer network at the school. The language school benefits through physical space and gaining the expertise of the various Chinese faculty members who represent a multi-disciplinary segment of the faculty and staff of the university.
“For our faculty members, this is a form of community engagement,” Zhao said. “Through the school, our faculty members engage with the community and such engagement benefits their teaching and research.”
The Grand Rapids Chinese Language School is open to students of all ages and backgrounds. The school enrolls about 120 students in more than a dozen Saturday classes.