St. Peter’s ACHS adds Mandarin classes to curriculum


By Jolene Perron


Thanks to a General Amherst exchange student, St. Peter’s ACHS can add Mandarin back into their curriculum for the first time since leaving Vaughn.

When St. Peter’s ACHS was in Vaughn, they had a high school student from China who’d moved there. When their family became involved with the school, they offered to teach Mandarin classes.

“As a school we have to prep our kids for the future,” said Peter Thyrring headmaster at St. Peter’s ACHS. “Half of the world population speaks Chinese or Mandarin, which is huge. You have Cantonese, and you have Mandarin and if you want to do any kind of business in Asia, you have to know how to speak Mandarin or at least the basics. Asian culture is all about respect, so even if you can say simple things like good morning, good afternoon or sorry I don’t speak very good Mandarin, if you can say these things it’s an honor. If you try to do your best to communicate in their language they see it as a sign of respect because they know it’s not our native tongue and for them to know that we are making the effort is a huge sign of respect for them. We have to be progressive, we have to be proactive.”

General Amherst Grade 12 exchange student Victoria Wan has begun teaching Mandarin classes to students at St. Peter’s ACHS. She will continue to teach them until the end of June.

It was a similar situation as to when they were in Vaughn, one of their new parents said she had an exchange student from China staying with her family. Thyrring said their first Mandarin teacher in Vaughn was only a Grade 12 student themselves and was excellent, well disciplined and very well spoken. He said he spoke with Victoria Wan, who was very intrigued by the opportunity.

“English is a big language and my mom wanted me to listen more to English, which lead me here,” explained Wan. “I think Chinese is interesting and I want people to know Chinese. [The students] are good, some of their pronunciation is not great. Chinese is very difficult and it’s different than English, and I hope they can understand some regular Chinese language.”

Thyrring said it would have been foolish of them to pass up an opportunity such as this one. Even if all the children learn is how to say are simple phrases, they have been exposed to the language, which gives them an edge.

Currently, the class is being offered twice a week for one hour to just six of the 12 students in the school, because, Thyrring. explained, they need their kids to work on their academics, so the more advanced kids are the ones who are taking the Mandarin class, whereas the other kids who are not as far advanced will be working on their regular academics to try to bring them up to speed during that time.
“I think it’s such a cool opportunity and for us it’s huge,” said Thyrring. “I think you need to look at the big picture down the road, the company your child may be working for, do they need someone who can speak a little bit of Mandarin, someone who has at least been exposed to it so their company can advance. We need to look at the global economy. We need to look outside the box and I think the only way we can do that is to reach out.”

For more on St. Peter’s ACHS College School, call 519-736-2014.

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