There’s a new class offered at the Freeport Memorial Library that aims to expose the culture and language of China to the community at large.
Ilgar Guo, a Chinese culture and language teacher, hopes that the class will not only introduce the language, but Chinese culture, too.
Freeport residents were invited to a discussion at the library on June 11. In a single class, the students were offered a glimpse of what they would be signing up for if they put their names down for the courses, to be held in July.
Guo, who is from North West China, introduced herself to her potential students.
“I agreed to teach this class to give people some background information in order to get a further understanding of the study of Chinese,” she said. “This would be helpful, so you’ll know more of the history and a little bit more about the culture.”
“What’s the difference between Mandarin and Chinese?” an attendee asked, after Guo shared a few facts about China.
“Mandarin and Chinese are the same in a way — Mandarin Chinese is the official language,” she explained. “Normally we don’t see Mandarin Chinese, we just see Chinese.”
After a brief explanation of the language, Guo asked the attendees, “When you think of China, what comes to your mind?”
“Chinese food!” one attendee said. “The Great Wall,” another added.
Guo listed typical Chinese stereotypes and explained how each of them correlates — or doesn’t — with Chinese culture. She also explained how China was primarily hidden from the rest of the world before the mid-1970s.
She went on to talk about the Great Wall and asked the attendees, “Who has been able to visit the wall?” Two out of the ten attendees raised their hands.
Guo touched on China’s history, discussed communism, the Terracotta Warriors, and how Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, was buried with the warriors, hoping they would keep him safe even in death.
She explained the different languages that are spoken in separate parts of China, including Mandarin, Cantonese, and Shanghainese, adding that the differences between the languages exceed those between Portuguese and Spanish. China’s main language is Mandarin Chinese, which is the most widely spoken language in the world.
“The writing in the Chinese language is extremely unique — instead of letters, use ‘characters,’” she said.
Attendees learned a few basic words, including horse, person, bird and mountain, and expressed excitement about learning more about the Chinese culture and its languages.
Natalie Deshommes is an intern at the Herald from Pennsylvania State University.