OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Tucked away in the heart of Oakland’s Chinatown, something very special is brewing. It’s the Yu Ming Charter School. It is now just two years old and already 150-plus students strong.
Children from all over Alameda County are learning Mandarin all day long like second grader Siena Wong-Chai who loves the school
“I have always wanted to visit China someday, and now Ill be able to talk to other kids,” said Wong-Chai.
Yu Ming translated means nurturing the future. It was the brainchild of nine parents that all wanted their kids to be bilingual. Their kids only speak English 10% of the day. The rest of their studies are all Chinese.
Yu Ming co-founder Chrissy Schwinn still can’t believe how quickly it all came together. “It’s amazing when you see these kids have no Mandarin and in a matter of three months are already speaking Mandarin and reading some perhaps and even trying to write characters,” said Schwinn. “It’s really incredible!”
Yu Ming features K-2nd grade, but plans to expand from K-8th over the next 6 years. There is already a waiting list to get in, and since it’s a public school that will be settled with a spring lottery.
Some visiting parents were mighty impressed. “I think that it is great to know two languages,” said Rina Narcisse of Oakland. “I think we are at a disadvantage as Americans who primarily only speak one language. ”
“When they come many have no Mandarin background, but now they can make up a story in Mandarin,” said Wea Shen, one of Yu Ming’s seven teachers. “It’s amazing!”