Ms. Yu Brings Chinese Culture and Language to Archmere


Samantha Curry

In contrast to the often monochrome rooms around her, Ms. Yu’s classroom acts as a portal to another culture that may be unfamiliar to much of our student body. Her classroom ceilings are decorated with Chinese knots, and the walls are covered with traditional paintings. The bright reds are vibrant against the tan surroundings. Black and white pictures are also pinned by the door, depicting Chinese traditions, something she herself participates in first hand and shares with her students. 

Ms. Yu, a second-year teacher here at Archmere, was born in Taiwan, where she lived during her adolescent years. She fondly remembers her favorite tradition, Chinese New Year, when she spent time with family and received a month off for winter break. 

“In my generation, everybody was not wealthy enough and [Chinese New Year] was the only holiday that we could get new clothes and lots of food to eat and lots of candy to eat,” said Yu. “The family would get together where we usually had one month break, our winter break”

She always dreamed of studying abroad, so for college she attended the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut while also working to pay for her own education. Additionally, she worked for eight years at a computer company. She enjoyed her time in college but still experienced a culture shock after moving from Taiwan. 

“When I greeted people [here], people usually hug you and kiss your cheeks,” said Yu. “In our culture, we usually shake hands or nod our heads and say hello in Chinese.” 

Since middle school, Yu knew she wanted to be an educator but was not sure when that time would come. With the desire to help kids learn, Yu started off at an elementary school working with elementary school kids, then took a job at a boarding school in West Chester, Pennsylvania called the Westtown School. From there she continued her role as an educator at Archmere juggling five classes of Mandarin.

“The kids are very respectful and very polite and they just show me they want to learn. They work really hard with me and I appreciate it, and I work really hard with them too,” said Yu. “I can only say I am very fortunate with this group of kids–I throw something at them and if they don’t know they can come to me and if they don’t, I reach out to them.”  

Many of Ms. Yu’s students are taking the language for the first time–a difficult task–but they describe Ms. Yu as caring and helpful in every way, which helps make the transition smoother. 

“I love Ms. Yu. The class can be hard but she encourages us to come for help whenever we need it,” said freshman Bella Dell’Oso. “She is so calm and her teaching style also seems to make the understanding easier.”

Spreading her culture and language to the students and faculty, Ms. Yu is seen as a rich resource for the Archmere community. She is described as even-keeled people and calming to be around. 

“She brings a very high level of rigor to the Chinese program here, and we have really been able to get nice continuity between all of the classes and it is a much more seamless connection between the levels,” said Department Chair Madame Thiel. “I think she is setting very high standards for her students while also being so calm and approachable.” 

Ms. Yu’s advice for other teachers would be to understand that students have ups and downs with all sorts of things like homework, exams, friends, or peer pressure so there has to be an open line of communication.  

“You will need to be willing to listen to your students’ voices,” said Yu. “Open your ears and listen to them.”