The governments of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Taiwan have further strengthened their over three-decade-long diplomatic relations after a high school on the Caribbean island added Mandarin lessons to its curriculum.
According to Focus Taiwan, a collaborative effort between the island nation’s Ambassador to Taiwan, Andrea Bowman, and the Taiwanese government, spearheaded the introduction of the language lessons for first-year students at the St. Vincent Girls’ High School at the commencement of the new academic year on September 7.
Bowman said 130 students are undertaking the lessons at the moment under the tutelage of a teacher provided and being paid by the government of Taiwan through its technical mission on the island.
“The broad curricular plan is to introduce the students to the history and culture (of Taiwan) in order to contextualize an introductory language course,” Bowman said, adding that the idea of introducing Mandarin lessons to the school was the brainchild of an old student who studied at a university in Taiwan under the East Asian country’s scholarship program.
“Zuleika Lewis planted the idea, and our embassy then contacted the GHS headmistress and its Foreign Languages department,” said Bowman. “This was then followed by our embassy’s outreach to the Ministry of Education in SVG and the Taiwanese embassy in SVG. The headmistress, Michelle Beache, embraced the idea right away and worked towards its realization.”
Speaking on how indispensable the Mandarin language program language is with regards to strengthening diplomatic relations between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Taiwan, Bowman told Focus Taiwan: “A country’s language carries its culture. Therefore the cultural exchange through language automatically deepens our 39 years of diplomatic relations.”
The Taiwan Technical Mission shared photos of the first day of Mandarin lessons that was held in the school on Facebook on Monday, saying the students partook in some activities and were excited to receive Chinese names.
“They did not just learn how to introduce themselves, but also some classroom phrases,” they shared in the post. “What surprised themselves is that they can even sing a Chinese song within an hour! Well done!! Perhaps soon the same song will be spread along the streets in St. Vincent?!”