By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
By now, most parents and family members have heard about the new teacher this year. Du Hongwei (pronounced as Mr. Due to the students) has been introducing Mandarin Chinese to students from Kindergarten through twelfth grade at all three schools across the county.
Du graduated with a Bachelors Degree in English in 2015 and started his travelling right away. He started by teaching in Thailand for three years where he also became quite fluent in Thai. “I think my Thai is even better than my English,” he laughed. After his time there, he returned to China when he saw an ad for the opportunity to teach in the states. “My parents were excited and very supportive,” he commented on their reaction when they learned of his travelling opportunities. After he applied, he was informed he got into the program and would be making the journey to our little corner of West Virginia. “I looked it up and seen the population and was like oh my gosh only six thousand in the whole county?” he laughed again.
Du travels between the three schools daily and adjusts his teaching methods and curriculum to the classes he is in front of. His goal is for the students to be able to build upon the foundation he has started to lay for them. As of right now, Du believes he will get to return next year, but not before returning to China to his family for the summer. The program can allow for him to continue for up to four years in our schools building their Chinese skills exponentially. “The kids love it and are progressing,” he noted.
He informed that in China, it is customary beginning in Kindergarten to be taught the English language. “I think English is the international language,” Du stated. This is how he become fluent in English even though he feels it’s the most difficult language to learn.
“I do love the snow,” he proclaimed, “every time it snows I’m really excited,” he said when asked how he liked it here. While it’s just part of our daily routine to look outside for several months and see the ground covered in snow, we forget it’s not something a lot of people get to experience very often in their lifetime. Du allows he really likes it here and commented, “Everyone is really nice.” When asked where else he would like to travel, be it to teach or visit, he said “I want to visit New York, not to teach, just to visit. I want to see the statue (of Liberty).” He did say if he could travel to another country to teach, his preferred location would be England and Britain. More likely than not, he would be becoming fluent in a forth language if that came to pass.
Some students that are in Mr. Du’s class were asked what they thought of their teacher and the opportunity to learn Chinese. Here are a few of their responses. Alaina Owens said, “I like Mr. Du and his class is awesome!” Alaina’s mother, Sylvia, commented how she is constantly going through the house, singing songs in Chinese that she has learned in just a short time being in this class. Ben Gooden said “He is pretty cool and an awesome teacher.” Isaiah Leary said he “Likes to learn the things that he teaches along with the words,” but his favorite is origami. Joanna Leary says she has learned so much that if she ever travels to other areas where people speak Chinese, she will be able to understand them. Alexander Leary says he likes the songs he teaches to learn the words.
Mr. Du is here as part of a program in conjunction with West Virginia University that assists in finding teachers qualified to travel and teach while providing their salaries and housing. His position is not funded from the county or Board of Education, so it’s essentially a win-win for everyone involved. We are glad to have Mr. Du with us for the remainder of this year and hopefully next. He has been a phenomenal asset to the school system and the students have already learned so much from him being here that they wouldn’t have had the opportunity for otherwise.