EDINBURGH, Texas (KVEO) – Xin Zhang’s dream of exploring the world and learning about different cultures led her to become a Chinese teacher.
“I think the language is very useful for humans to understand each other,” she said.
Zhang has taught in South Korea, Africa and the United States, where she has spent the past eight years working at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
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“I already look at the valley as my second hometown,” Zhang said. “I know where I can find good restaurants and I know how to communicate with the locals. I have a feeling of love in this place.
Her position is on a one-year contract and on May 13, she received a call informing her that it had not been renewed for the 2021-2022 school year.
“I was shocked, I felt very weak, and I lost confidence in myself,” Zhang said.
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KVEO has contacted the UTRGV about the decision. They said it was due to insufficient enrollment, but they offered Zhang a part-time position to teach three courses.
Since her immigration visa requires a full-time job, she cannot accept this position.
“I’m so sorry I didn’t say goodbye,” she said. “I can’t see my students again in the fall.”
Chris Cavasos, cybersecurity specialist at UTRGV, has become almost fluent in Chinese thanks to Professor Zhang’s lessons.
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“I think speaking English, with Spanish to be able to connect with Central and South America, as well as Chinese would have given me a good opportunity to work in an increasingly globalized world,” Cavasos said. .
He planned to take another class with Zhang in the fall, but that remains uncertain, as is the fate of the Chinese Language and Culture Association which, without Zhang, loses its sponsor.
“Nothing is guaranteed, so I would say it’s intimidating,” he said. “If there was some kind of goal, I knew that if I reached that goal, we would keep the Chinese program. We’re just spinning in the dark. ”
Although Zhang hopes enrollment increases enough to save her job, if not, she encourages students not to give up learning the language.
“Your age is a very good age to learn new things,” she said. “If after a few years you need to support your family, you don’t have a chance to learn, so you’ve lost an opportunity. So college is a good time to try new things to challenge yourself. ”
To keep his visa, Zhang would have to find a full-time job by the end of July. She planned to retire and return to China in three years once the Visa H1 expired.
Now returning may be her only choice, which she says will be more difficult with COVID-19 remaining a threat.