Back in her hometown of Nanjing, China, before she ever came to Macalester, Danlu Hu ’13 read about Chinese adoptees returning to their native land. Moved by their stories, says Hu, she remembers thinking at the time, “I should really do something for these kids.”
Now she has. Hu, an economics and math major, spent the last year interning at Yinghua Academy, a Chinese immersion school in northeast Minneapolis whose student body is partly made up of Chinese adoptees. For four to eight hours a week she grades homework and acts as a teaching assistant in second and fifth grade classrooms, helping kids who need extra attention to understand the material.
For example, one girl missed a week of school, and was way behind the others in her second grade classroom. Hu worked with her intensely on her Chinese, and within the hour had her caught up with the class. “I felt pretty excited to do that,” says Hu.
She has since learned that many Americans consider learning Chinese to be a serious strategic advantage for future business or political careers. “Before I came to the U.S. I knew I wanted to teach Americans about Chinese culture and language, “ says Hu. “And now I am.”
Hu has helped local Chinese adoptees in another way as well this year. She and three other Mac students from China spoke last fall to a group of junior high-age Chinese adoptees about popular culture in their country—clothes, music, movies, favorite foods. The kids were riveted. “They gathered around us and asked all kinds of questions,” remembers Hu. “It was fun.”