Cynthia, Chinese Academy Teacher

Cynthia hopes that, when students leave the Academy, they continue to learn Chinese and eventually even study abroad in China.

“My name is Cynthia Ni. I'm from Edison, New Jersey. This is my fourth year teaching Chinese, second year with the Academy. I'm actually teaching true beginners this year, so I get to see the learning curve just shoot up after, let's say, the second week.

“For us, going into the fourth week now, they've just made tremendous progress from knowing nothing in the target language to being able to have a simple conversation with anyone at the academy. And then when they are able to build their confidence in that target language, then they want to learn more. I think it's because they have that drive. They want to achieve something. They set a goal and they are able to reach that goal.

“Well, we have students from different backgrounds. Some of them are adopted. I know one of my students is from China originally and her parents want her to basically know her ethnicity and get to understand her cultural background. So they have her come here to study Chinese.

“For them, they get more opportunities to practice the target language. For example, yesterday at the Olympics, they were able to, even when they were competing, they were practicing the target language.

“I think that's the most rewarding part of the teaching is when you have that light bulb go off and you see that student, they got it. They retained the information. They can apply it outside the classroom. That's the best part.

“My hope is for my students, when they leave MMLA, to continue taking Chinese and maybe study abroad in China. I guess Chinese is the language right now to be taking.

“But it can be any language, any modern language. If they're taking it, they have more chances to interact with other people and to learn about different cultures.

“I always tell my students that I want them to see themselves as a global citizen. Because now we are so interconnected. You just want them to be able to interact with as many people as possible.”