Lawton_The Chinese language is considered to be the most widely spoken in the world today, which is why Lawton Public Schools (LPS) is hosting three Mandarin-speaking teachers - one for each high school. It's the second year that Lawton high schools have benefitted from the expertise of a Chinese instructor. LPS says that as the US becomes more global, different languages become more significant.
China is one of the fastest growing markets in the world, and has many unexplored business opportunities. For the teachers who have come to Lawton, they say they not only want to teach their language, and especially share their culture.
Rufus Lindsey, a junior at Lawton High School (LHS), says he knew the class wouldn't be easy, but decided to enroll regardless of the difficulty. "It's very important especially in America where you have so many diverse people and different groups," he said. "You need to be at least acquainted with another language." His teacher, Ms. Liu Xijing says that even though there is a vast difference between the Chinese and English languages, there isn't a vast difference between people. "Some people do think China is the old China, and I want them to know that we do the same thing, we have the same life," she said.
While students are learning that all stereotypes about the Chinese are not true, MacArthur Chinese teacher Zheng Yue says she's learning about Americans too. "I heard a lot about American students misbehavior in China, but my students, what I can say is they are excellent students," she said.
LHS principal Rick Kitzrow visited China schools last year and said he was blown away by the curriculum. "What surprised me most is their command of the English language," he said. "They start English the elementary schools, and they take English every year. When I visited the high school there, most of them could communicate with me."
Liu says there is a reason the Chinese focus on academics. "The students in America focus their life on their activities or their hobbies and interests, but in China the students, when they are very young, they know that they have to study very hard to have a better life," she said.
Eisenhower High School (EHS) Chinese teacher Peng Yi says she has learned new things along with her students. "I miss my husband, I love him," she said. "When I was at home, I didn't realize how much I love him."
All three teachers say they have been overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of all their students and the faculty. The say the City of Lawton has earned an A+. Nearly 140 Chinese teachers are being placed across 32 states this month, at high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools.
Several crews responded to a series of fires along Highway 7 near the Comanche/Stephens County line. Crews still have not determined how they started, but they suspect the fires were ignited by a vehicle that could have been inadvertently dragging a chain, or a trailer that was sending out sparks. Firefighters were able to get it under control and keep it from spreading too far.