by Lisa Tome
After wrapping up her work day at Rising Sun Middle School on Wednesday, Doreen Soo headed to her volunteer job.
Soo who teaches Chinese, has a whole new group of students after school hours. Since early December she has been teaching the language to fourth and fifth graders at Rising Sun Elementary.
The Chinese Club is a voluntary grant-funded program geared to exposing younger students to foreign language. Those who join the club also learn about the Chinese culture.
There is an emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. Last week, students in the club learned about the life cycle of a butterfly. Soo said she hopes the program sparks interest in the younger students. There is a plan to add Advanced Placement Chinese to the high school curriculum in the future. She also said that younger students are quick to learn the language.
"I need a lot more energy for the elementary (students)," said Soo. "They are so cute, easier to engage, and show curiosity and interest."
The students work every week from 2:15-3:30 p.m. Soo said she enjoys the younger students and said they are eager to participate. The club is now in its second session. So far, 16 students have joined the club.
Fifth grader Jillian Felix likes learning Chinese. "It's awesome. We learn new stuff," said Felix.
Rylan House, also a fifth grader, said he can count to 21 in Chinese. He started demonstrating counting, and his fellow club members joined in, counting to 30.
Carley Kilgore said she likes the culture lesson. Maddie Warnick said she now can name fruits in Chinese. "They are not what you expected them to be," said Warnick.