by Cathy Chen
As a speaker of three languages, I can honestly state that it wasn’t just determination that got me through —it was passion to learn and pride of who I am and who I wished to be. Of those three languages, one is English, and another is Mandarin (Chinese).
I started learning Mandarin as a young infant, only one or two years old, as I was born in America but spent my toddler years in China, where, if you couldn’t speak the language of the country, you were disaster-prone. Years later, when I went back to America, I decided that just being able to speak Mandarin wasn’t enough. I needed to get a real education in the language of my ancestors. I went to Universal Chinese School (寰宇中文学校) where I learned to read, write, understand, and speak Mandarin. It was horrible at first, for I was so young in comparison to my classmates. I was only 6 at the time, and everyone else was 10 or older. I felt insignificant and very much wanted to give up, but my pride refused to let me. It was a number, in the end, that really showed me what I am, who I am. I was the only one who got a 100% on the final assessment of the semester. It made me ecstatic. I realized that I will never be an average student. From that moment on, I decided that if I could be the top of the class, regardless of my age, I would never let anything stop me, ever.
Today, having completed all the basic and intermediate books for Mandarin (1-12 grade levels), I am on the second book for the “College Level” books and I am the oldest student in my school (for there was no book higher than third book for “College Level”, which no one was in. I had attended the school consistently for nearly seven years.)
Simply knowing that even though I have Chinese blood flowing through my veins, yet I am still an accomplished student in America satisfies me. I am confident that I will succeed later on in life. I love to learn. Nothing can diminish or snuff out my love of learning. There is so much knowledge for one to learn. I am in no hurry to step off the train of life-long learning.