The large ballroom in UCLA’s Covel Commons resembled a bustling day-care center one recent day, as laughter rang out across the room.
A boisterous game of Twister was being played in one corner, charades were set up near the refreshments and the occasional shout of “Uno!” sounded from the front.
But the participants, speaking in rapid-fire Mandarin, were not children. They were dozens of Chinese teachers in Los Angeles for a nine-day crash course to prepare them for what they consider the opportunity of a lifetime: to teach Mandarin in American schools.
In a few weeks, 176 Chinese teachers will head to kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms across the country, from rural Kentucky towns to the tidy suburbs of Salt Lake City. Only two will remain in California, assigned to schools in Redding and Ojai.