fond greetings

Michael Pineda/The Duncan Banner Comanche students swarm Luping Wang Monday afternoon during the after-school program as she enters the classroom.

The Duncan Banner

For the past two years, Wang Luping of the Confucius Institute at the University of Oklahoma, has ended her teleconference class with a hug to her students on the television screen.

Monday afternoon, she was able to hug her students in person.

Luping, representatives from the Confucius Institute and a television crew from China Central Television made their way to Comanche Monday to do a story on the impact of children learning the Chinese language. Comanche was one of several stops across the state for the story which will be aired on China’s version of CNN.

“We are so touched by the devotion from the administration for their passion of the Chinese language,” Sharon Gou, the OUCI Director said. “The kids are so eager to learn, it melts our hearts.

“I am thrilled that we came here. There are 60 Confucius Institutes in the United States and they chose a few. In our Institute, we have 40, and this is one that we are proud of. I’m thankful for the vision of the administration to fill this need.”

Comanche began its teleconference class as part of its after-school program following the reception of a grant. Lynn Tilley and Marilyn Pineda met Dr. Jessica Stowell, the OUCI Associate Director at OU Tulsa at the Governor’s Global Conference and the wheels were set in motion to bring the program to Comanche.

The program proved to be a success in its first year and in the second year, Crescent and Fort Gibson came on board. Tilley gave a lot of the credit to Wang and her ability to hold the children’s attention.

When the program began, Comanche offered it to its kindergarten class. At this time, it is offered to second and third graders.

“They wiggled, twisted and they learned,” Tilley said. “Luping (Wang) has been so patient and so kind.”

When Wang and company entered the library Monday, the student’s affection for their teacher quickly became apparent as she was quickly swarmed as each student wanted to hug her.

“I’m so excited,” Wang said. “Every time that I see them on TV, I hug them through an action but I got to hug them today. I’m very excited and very touched.”

Wang incorporates visual aids in teaching the language as well as songs and actions. She also uses a format similar to that used in China in the way she teaches her class. Each session starts with students and teacher greeting each other and ends the same way.

In addition to the language, Wang teaches aspects of China’s culture. Her ability to reach the students was evident during a class session held for the benefit of the CCTV news crew. As the children answered questions in Chinese and sang songs, the news crew and Confucius representatives were clearly touched by the display.

“The kids are very young but they pay attention,” Wang said. “I keep them busy so they don’t have time to do different things and be wiggly.

“I just feel like they are my kids. I treat them like my daughter. After we are finished, they hug me through the TV. I like that. I like that they react to me.”

Following the session, CCTV interviewed Wang as well as Comanche Superintendent Terry Davidson and others associated with the program. The key questions centered around the reason that Comanche offered the language and the impact that it had on its students.

“After having traveled to China and see kids learn English, it’s like we are making bonds,” Tilley said. “We are working to make classroom connections.

“Even if the kids don’t go on to become fluent speakers, it gives them a lot of confidence. They have learned something hard and it’s given them an awareness that it’s a big world.”

The success of the program at Comanche has propelled it as one of the OUCI’s model programs and made it a natural for selection as a representative school for the CCTV program.

“There is dedication of the staff, from the superintendent, the principal and the teachers,” Gou said. “We feel so honored to fill the needs of the students.

“This program is so dear to our hearts. It is a model program in the state.”

With the impact that the program has had on the students, Tilley would like to see the state fund similar programs around the state.

“I wish the state would fund language learning at the elementary level,” Tilley said. “This is where they begin learning.”

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