Mary Privett selected for UNL's competitive 2017 STARTALK Academy
WHS junior chosen for intense two-week Chinese language/culture study on UNL campus
"Learning a foreign language, and the culture that goes with it, is one of the most useful things we can do to broaden the empathy and imaginative sympathy and cultural outlook of children." --Michael Gove (British politician)
Successful 21st Century teachers understand and stress the importance of cultural literacy in preparing students to thrive in today's global society, and they celebrate when their students embrace that lesson, and pursue opportunities outside of school to further enhance that literacy.
WHS junior Mary Privett has provided yet another reason to celebrate!
Privett has been awarded a competitive grant to participate in the 2017 STARTALK program, sponsored by the Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education in the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln! She is one of only 20 students selected from state-wide applications.
According to their website, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln 2017 STARTALK Chinese Language, Culture and Technology Summer Academy is designed to provide an immersion experience in Chinese language and culture. The focus of the Academy curriculum will be on gaining language skills, cultural understanding, and digital media expertise in order to practice Chinese and continue to increase in language proficiency after the Academy is over.
The Academy will consist of 14 instructional days for high schools students in grades 9-12 who are interested in learning Chinese. The outcomes of the Academy are:
1) to develop interest in Chinese language and culture among high school students resulting in the establishment of programs across Nebraska,
2) to immerse 20 high school students in the Chinese language and culture using innovative digital media to teach and assess language and culture,
3) to pair each high school Chinese learner with a teacher of Chinese who will serve as mentor for the duration of the two week Academy, and
4) to promote continued development of the Chinese language and culture through the LinguaFolio and ePortfolio designed to encourage continued study and to assess student achievement.
This experience will not only enable students to be immersed in the Chinese language and culture, but will also allow them to become proficient in using technology as a language learning tool. All expenses related to the Academy are covered by the grant, including housing, meals and supplies. Participants will live in dorms at UNL during the academy.
At the same time the high school students will be at UNL, 15 high school Chinese teachers, most of whom are native Chinese speakers, will also be hosted. Both groups will be living together in the dormitory, providing a unique opportunity for all parties to learn from one another. The cooperative learning opportunities of having these groups in such close proximity 24-hours a day, 7 days a week is invaluable. Students will be able to interact one-on-one and in small groups with native Chinese speakers on evenings and weekends through carefully structured social events.
Opportunities like this oftentimes lead to bigger and better opportunities for students.
Privett is the fifth WHS student in recent years to be chosen for this honor. WHS junior Sydney Holdsworth attended STARTALK last summer, WHS junior Kaitlin Pace and senior Shawn Knowlton attended in 2015, and WHS alum Tyler Ruzicka attended the STARTALK program during the summer of 2013. Ruzicka followed up his STARTALK experience with a year-long study in China, thanks to a National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship. He is now enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, where he is pursuing a degree in International Studies.
"I'm thrilled that Mary was accepted for this program!" commented WHS Spanish Instructor Cass Didier. "Her love of culture and language and the world in general make her an ideal candidate. I'm excited for the connections she will make and to see how this might impact her already bright future. Congratulations, Mary, and thank you in advance for representing Wahoo High School."
Congratulations Mary on this impressive accomplishment!