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Learning Chinese Inspires Chanute Student - KOAM TV 7

Chanute Student Finds Inspiration in Learning Mandarin

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It's the sound of learning, but of an unconventional subject for 4-state students: Mandarin, also referred to as standard Chinese.

Offered at Chanute High School, the class gives a unique perspective. And junior Rena Stair's eyes and ears are wide open.

"It's so different from all the other ones," said Stair. "It's just a different way of thinking."

The Chinese class is part of a program produced by the University of Kansas Confucius Institute. Instructors, each one a native Chinese speaker, teach the students remotely via a broadcast webcam.

"Sounds are very sensitive, so when a student is working, the teacher can see exactly what they students are doing," said Cathy Buckley, a teacher at Chanute High School.

For grading, the students fax each completed assignment to their instructor at KU. As like any class, the lessons vary.

"We have oral speaking ones and also have writing parts and reading parts," said Gwen Liu of the Confucius Institute.

But one might wonder: With all the demands of high school, what is the appeal behind the challenge of learning Chinese?

"It opens up a lot of doors," said Stair. "I mean in Chanute alone, a company here is having problems with finding someone who can introduce their workers to the people around because no body can speak it."

"The relationship between the United States and China is the most critical bilateral relationship on the planet today," said Sheree Willis, executive director of the Confucius Institute.

But above all, it's the fun found in a new land. At least for Stair.

"I would see Chinese characters on the TV and be like whoa how do they even do that? I couldn't even think of it. I had no idea. But then I started learning it and I said you know, this is simpler than I thought."

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