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The Changing Face of America’s Chinese Schools

December 1, 2015

Non-Asian students are increasingly spending their Saturdays immersed in China’s language and culture.
AUDREY CLEO YAP

NOV 30, 2015

From the mid- to late 90s, I endured Saturday morning Chinese school the way many of my fellow children of immigrants did: with a healthy a mix of indifference and resentment. While my non-Chinese friends spent their mornings at youth soccer games, I was stuck inside a heritage school classroom for at least two hours, practicing traditional characters and reading texts about buying bai tsai at the supermarket.

Chinese-heritage school, or “Saturday school,” is a dedicated space for ABCs (“Americans Born Chinese”) like myself to learn Mandarin and Chinese culture. In my own experience, it was simultaneously a hub of exclusion and inclusion. Days spent at heritage school were weekly reminders of my otherness in Thousand Oaks, the mostly white suburb of Los Angeles where I grew up.

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