新闻和通知‎ > ‎

Interview with Principal Dai of Huagen Chinese School

发布者:华根网站管理员,发布时间:2019年4月30日 下午6:29   [ 更新时间:2019年5月1日 上午7:40 ]

Interviewed by: Annie Zhao

Written by: Annie Zhao Rachel Xu

Recorded by: Jennifer Fu


4/7/19


On April 7, I interviewed Principal Dai to better understand his profession, talk about his passion, Chinese culture, the Chinese school, and life lessons. Principal Dai is the first candidate I have interviewed, and I found that he is a very open-minded, open-hearted person who contributes great efforts to his community. His focus is on serving the community through his ways, being a parent, adviser, and principal. Through him, I learned pieces of information that tied into my life. It was truly wonderful to be able to interview Principal Dai. He is a very bright person with strong leadership skills. Also, he knows how to work with children and adults to make a school that has prospered for many years. Principal Dai is a goal oriented and driven person; he knows where he is going, and there is no turning back.

Interview:

1. Annie: When did you become principal of Huagen Chinese School?

Principal: I became principal two years ago, in 2017.

2. Annie: What inspired you to take that position?

Principal: I think that it is important to serve the community. Also, my children go to Chinese School, so as a parent, I want to help the community as much as possible. I think that is very meaningful, and being a principal, I need to set a model for children to follow.

3. Annie: How would you describe a successful principal?

Principal: I think the “successful” I define is not much of how famous you are, but how well you do something and help others. So in my opinion, I think being successful is allowing children to come to school to get an education. Yeah, that to me is a success.

4. Annie: What do you do as a principal, besides signing documents and things like that?

Principal: Um, I’ll summarize it in three points: 1. Managing Chinese School and its education,  2. Supervising extracurricular classes,  3. Unifying the teams of Huagen and bringing out the specialties in each person. That is what I do, basically.

5. Annie:  Could you tell us about the history of Huagen Chinese School?

Principal: Yes, so Chinese School was founded in 1997, and the founder was a professor at UF. I actually know him! He is in China now, but over the years, Chinese School has changed a lot. At first, there were only about 20-30 kids at the school, but now there are around 200 students. Chinese School certainly gained popularity, people knew more about it, and the school has been better than ever!

6. Annie:  What do you think will be the future of this school? What will it be like in five, ten years? Do you still want to be principal then? Any goals?

Principal: I would love to keep on serving the community just as long as the community thinks the same. I think the Chinese School is definitely going in a good direction. Something I want to see in the future is for Chinese School to be a place for everyone, a place where everyone gathers and enjoys learning.

7. Annie: As principal, what is your top priority?

Principal: Well, of course, Chinese School and its education. Everything revolves around the school, basically. It is important to spread more culture to others.

8. Annie: And, what are the three goals you would like to achieve for the school?

Principal: I want for the Chinese School’s education to at the least keep its quality and become even better, allow students and parents to have fun while learning, and to spread more of the Chinese culture.

9. Annie: What is an ideal environment for children, in your opinion?

Principal: I will split the environment into two: the geographical environment and cultural environment. With the geographical environment, we can’t really do much because we rent rooms for Chinese School. However, with the cultural environment, an ideal environment is something that is made up by everyone. Teachers, students, parents, all have to work together to make this. Making this environment takes time, and right now, we are trying to make this ideal place by having older children or teachers setting good examples for the younger ones.

10. Annie: For Chinese school, a problem is that there are many students who are unwilling to come to Chinese school. There could be many reasons for that, like laziness, or fear that they are too old. I certainly know people who regret not learning Chinese, and they feel embarrassed and even ashamed to be in Kindergarten Chinese with four or five-year-olds. What thought do you have on that? Do you think it is ever too late for someone to start learning a language?

Principal: Yeah, I totally understand what you’re saying. I also know people who are like that. I guess I would say that for people like that, I think the number one thing is excuses. Also, they do not put Chinese as a priority, or else they would not come up with those excuses, or whatever hinders them from attending Chinese School. I want to encourage the students who do not come to Chinese School to learn the language because first of all, it is never too late to learn. I know Indian families and non-Asian families that are learning Chinese. I know a family that drives from Ocala to Huagen Chinese School to learn Chinese. Language is like wings. You don’t have to have them to survive. But with them, you can reach higher places, do more things. It all sounds very nice, but putting it into action is harder than it sounds.

11. Annie: Are those extracurricular classes a major pull factor for Chinese School, or does it not have an effect at all?

Principal: Yes, it does pull students, but how major, it depends. Certain classes, like soccer, attracts more people. They hear that Huagen offers soccer, so they become interested and play. Soccer is the fourth period, so instead of waiting until soccer, they would look to see what is in third period? Well, there’s Happy Chinese, a class for non-natives. So yeah, and there are also classes for adults. There is Zumba, zither class, etc. Those classes allow adults to spend time together, talk about what classes their children are taking, things like that. Usually, adults bring their children with them and sign them up for a class while they exercise or play instruments. It’s things like that that pull people in.

12. Annie: As Chinese is being more widespread, do you think everyone should attend Chinese School, or do you want Huagen Chinese School to be exclusively for Chinese people?

Principal: I don't want it only for Chinese students; everyone is welcome. If we look at reality, though, there are more Chinese families than American. We offer Happy Chinese class to the whole community, but even with that, there are fewer Americans/ non-Chinese students. Most people have the perception that Chinese School is only for Chinese people. That is false and in fact the opposite. Chinese School is open to anyone who wants to learn Chinese.

13. Annie: With many students being American Born Chinese, do you think this Chinese school has helped them connect more to their roots?

Principal: The simple answer is certainly, yes. One of the pillars of this school’s foundation is for that exact reason - to introduce our students to Chinese culture. We help them learn more Chinese and more about Chinese culture - and not just with one or two other people. They are surrounded by peers working hard just like them, much like a Jewish or Indian group. The students are all very connected with each other and other people.

14.Annie: As we all know, the parents of students are most likely immigrants seeking the American Dream which is why they came here - they want a better future for their children - but when their children are here here, their children are surrounded by all the American influence, and what they do and their culture. The Chinese culture is probably lost by at least 50% - it’s either the children don’t speak Chinese, or they don’t understand it, or it’s just lost completely, or the parent will try to let the children speak Chinese, learn about the culture, do a lot of Chinese things, etc. But even if their parents push them with Chinese, around half of the culture - that root -  is lost, and so do you think Chinese school will help gain back a lot of percentage of that, or is Chinese school just a learning facility to just help them learn the language?

Principal: I think, my way of interpreting that, this is the reality, so I think like what you said before, the English language influence is too strong. Our kids are mostly in American schools, English is spoken primarily, so Chinese is not that apparent, so it’s hard to motivate them to learn Chinese. From the beginning of me running the school, I understood the reality was there was no clear way to establish a goal like how many people we wanted to get learning Chinese because that would be too futile, as all the households are varied and different. Rather, the first thing we do is provide an opportunity and a place, right,  for the children to return to. If the children are insistent that they don’t want to return, you can’t force them to come. Then my perspective is that I myself expect, or work towards, that, most importantly, our school can at least help 1/3 of the parents or those who didn’t know Chinese previously come back. Recently, we’ve had an example of this with a family, where the mother, four or five years ago, used to be one of our Chinese school teachers. Her child used to attend the Chinese classes as well. Later, we don’t know what happened, but they stopped coming. Then, this year, the child returned because the child was really adept at chess, they received awards and the such, and they also had the heart to come back to the Chess Club. And the Soccer Club and the Chess Club have joint awards, so on Saturday, they had a trial class where a renowned Chess master gave a trial to give the parents a sort of feeling about it. Like this, the child came back again. So I think, regardless of what happens, Chinese school will still stay there. Moreover, it should get better and better, and slowly, more and more families will come back. But they need time. And these things are all connected, so we must make sure the teachers’ skills are up to the requirement, etc. and all these things must be kept at a standard. If one aspect is lacking, it will carry over to the entire thing. So there will be many challenges to face. And we have many teams that all work together.

15. Annie: What is one life lesson you want everyone to know?

Principal: Hm, what life lesson? If it’s based on my experience, then it’s if you have found something to focus on, for example, if you have decided to do something - firstly, making sure there is a purpose to it - don’t stress so hard about it. This is probably what I’d say to be a lesson. If you are faced with challenges or are given chances to improve, and you miss out on it, you will never know what would’ve happened if you had taken that opportunity, and after many years it will pass. If you feel the opportunity has merit or even has a tiny bit of potential, let yourself try it, do your best. If you have space to grow and learn, don’t worry too much about the consequences of trying. I know some kids, and adults, too, for example, who will decide to do something, but they keep dragging it out because of their reluctance. So I think don’t hesitate. If you want to do something, be proactive and do it. Don't hide away from it. Time is precious, and don’t waste it. Don’t procrastinate. Just take action. Just do it.

16. Annie: On a scale of 1-10, how much do you like your job?

Principal: Certainly, at least nine, nine to ten. Because it is also - well, if you mean how much I enjoy it, I don’t really, that much. But I do definitely feel a responsibility. This work is very important and necessary for me to do. So if I complete my task, I will recognize the worthiness of my work and therefore have a greater appreciation for it. Also, working together with my co-workers, I’ve realized how meaningful my position is. So yeah, like a 9-10, I do find it a very essential job.


Comments