What I Learned From Mandarin Class (Besides Mandarin)

By Sydney Thiroux/Granada Hills Charter High School

Syd.jpgI have been studying Mandarin since my freshman year at Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS). I am blessed to have had the most amazing Mandarin teacher throughout my high school career. Recently, my teacher, Ms. Chen, informed her four Mandarin classes that she would be leaving our school after the school year was over. She will be working at Geffen Academy, a grades 6-12 academy affiliated with UCLA, to build their Mandarin program.

Naturally, all of her students, including myself, were heartbroken. She was our favorite teacher. How could she just leave us? Learning Mandarin wouldn’t be the same without her.

Many high school students take a foreign language class just to fulfill a graduation requirement. Mandarin class became so much more than that to me. Here are a few of the things that I learned from that class, besides Mandarin:


Mandarin is not an easy language. Writing, recognizing, and saying the characters is really difficult to get used to because it’s so different from English. I failed my very first quiz in that class. I could have easily given up because it was too hard, but I decided to pick myself back up and try again. I’ve kept this mentality in everything I do, and I am a better person because of it. I’ve learned to not give up, even when I am in a situation that seems impossible.


One of the things that made Ms. Chen stand out was her unconditional kindness. She was kind to everyone, whether they deserved it or not. I began to realize that being kind to everybody not only makes other people feel good, but it makes me feel good. I also learned that a small act of kindness could completely turn someone’s day around. You never know what someone is going through, so a little bit of kindness can go a long way.

How to Create Lasting Friendships

There may be multiple Spanish teachers at Granada, but there’s only one Mandarin teacher, so you get to take the class throughout your high school career with the same people. You end up creating special friendships that could last a lifetime. However, it takes a lot of work to maintain strong friendships. Arguments can arise between even the closest of friends, but it’s the way you respond in those moments that forms an unbreakable bond.

A Love for Teaching

My teacher inspired me so much through her teaching. Eventually, I realized that I want to inspire others the way that she inspired me. The look in someone’s eyes when they finally understand a concept, that moment of realization, is unlike anything else. Teachers have a special way of giving back to the community. Because of Ms. Chen, I discovered my love for teaching.

Appreciation for other Cultures

A huge part of learning a language is getting to know the culture. Chinese culture is one that goes back thousands of years and spans multiple dynasties. There’s so much beautiful art and music. The food is amazing. I look forward to going to China this summer and completely immerse myself in the culture.


Overall, I am so grateful to have spent three years of my high school career with Ms. Chen. I wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors!