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Home Global Activities Asia Students of El Menahil School in Türkiye Learn Mandarin

Students of El Menahil School in Türkiye Learn Mandarin

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"Click! Clack!" The sound of keyboards fills the classroom as Teacher Nadya Chou led students in the Mandarin Chinese class at El Menahil International School. Concentrating hard, they stare at their screens, following the step-by-step guidance of the online instructors.

Gradually, they become familiar with the system's operation. This innovative method of learning sparks excitement on the children's faces – they are diligently building their dreams for the future.

The aim of the class is to assist Syrian refugee students at El Menahil International School to acquire Mandarin Chinese language skills. On December 12, 2022, Tzu Chi Foundation, Tzu Chi University, and National Taiwan Normal University signed a collaboration Mandarin Chinese Learning Partner Program, called " El Menahil International School's Commitment." On April 24, 2023, El Menahil International School held an online Mandarin Chinese teaching session, followed by two teaching events on May 4th.

Mandarin Chinese Learning Partners Cultivate Global Talent

El Menahil International School was established on January 23, 2015. In  2018, it obtained accreditation as " El Menahil International School," becoming a "second home" for Syrian refugees in Türkiye. Here there are no borders nor racial divisions. Tzu Chi volunteers in Türkiye provide an umbrella of protection, guiding the children to soar above the conflicts around them by means of education. This transforms their lives.

Over the years, students at El Menahil have been closely connected to different languages. The professors not only teach Arabic, Turkish, and English but also strive to promote Mandarin Chinese, making it the only mandatory Mandarin Chinese language school in  Türkiye.

The Mandarin Chinese learning partner program, "El Menahil's Commitment"  involves close cooperation between volunteers in Taiwan and Türkiye.  It is run with the help of Mandarin Chinese courses from National Taiwan Normal University, including textbooks, technology, information, and picture books. It provides the best and fastest learning platform for refugee students and other foreign nationals.

The program will recruit 35 volunteers from Taiwan and 15 from Türkiye to teach Mandarin Chinese online to Syrian refugee students. It also provides online Mandarin Chinese learning companionship for students at El Menahil International School.

In addition to online communication, Taiwan is actively training volunteers and arranging outstanding Mandarin Chinese learning companions from this program to serve as local refugee students in Türkiye. The plan is that, from the summer vacation of 2023 to the winter vacation of 2024, these volunteers will go to Türkiye to supplement the teaching resources for disadvantaged groups, bridge the learning resource gap, and educate globally minded individuals.


Building Dreams and Expressing Gratitude in Chinese

On April 24, 2023, El Menahil International School in Türkiye organized an online Mandarin Chinese teaching session. It was based on the "Empower" curriculum from National Taiwan Normal University. Teachers from Taiwan, including Cui-Jun Hu and Tzu Chi staff Si-Dan Chen, Du Jia-Yi, and volunteer Nadya Chou guided the Mandarin Chinese class students at El Menahil International School in their learning journey.

Since the establishment of El Menahil International School, Nadya Chou has been the first Mandarin Chinese teacher. Additionally, two Syrian teachers, Malik and Kang Tian-Yi, also joined the ranks of Mandarin Chinese teachers after passing the Chinese Proficiency Test organized by the Taiwan Ministry of Education.

It began when Tzu Chi volunteers in Türkiye established a free clinic in 2017, with the Tzu Chi office located in the basement of the clinic. Nadya Chou began teaching humanities courses, guiding students in flower arrangement, tea ceremony, sign language, and Mandarin Chinese.

She led the children in participating in outreach activities, taking them to the clinic to perform sign language and tell stories, spreading warmth to the waiting patients. Through their contributions, the children grew stronger, understanding that their lives still held value and meaning despite their adversity.

"Their dreams include becoming doctors, pharmacists, artists, and even aspiring psychologists ..." Nadya Chou gently outlined the dreams of the children, with positive energy filling their young hearts. Apart from these aspirations, the children's greatest hope is to express their gratitude in Chinese in the future -- this hope is gradually being realized.


Teachers Join Forces to Help Children Spread Their Wings

Mandarin Chinese, spoken by 1.4 billion people worldwide as their native language, holds great global significance in education, employment, trade, and the economy. Assisting Syrian refugee students in transitioning from school while also acquiring proficiency in Mandarin Chinese can be a soft power that enables them to integrate into the international community and connects them to the world.

A learning platform that gathers the collective love and support of people has emerged. The dedicated teachers at El Menahil have put in their utmost efforts; they conducted two teaching activities on May 4. The Mandarin Chinese class teachers from El Menahil collaborated to teach children from other Chinese language classes.

"Syrian students are mostly refugee children, and most of them rely on smartphones to access the platform, which presents significant challenges," explained Nadya Chou with a hint of sorrow. She hopes that these difficulties can be transformed into nourishment for the children. In regular online classes, some students may be shy and hesitant to turn on their video. But, today, through encouraging them, the teachers have come to know these students.

The class began with Teacher Ziad Zam explaining to the students how to access the system, followed by Nadya Chou introducing them to the course content.

Some students were already familiar with the system and handled it with ease. Others, new learners, found it exciting and were eager to give it a try. The enthusiasm displayed by the students towards learning Mandarin Chinese brought joy and comfort to Nadya Chou.

She invited her students to come up one by one and introduce themselves, creating a warm atmosphere that encouraged the active participation of other children.

Teachers Abudula and Halut have always taken great care of the students, encouraging them to participate actively in learning. They also urged the Mandarin Chinese learning partners to continue moving forward and accompany the students, to ensure that love never ceases.

"Children who grow up in a grateful environment will not turn bad. The students' learning of Mandarin Chinese is not only about opening a window to the world but also expressing gratitude for the great love and warmth brought to them by the Tzu Chi Foundation," said Chou with sincerity. The Jing Si Aphorisms of Master Cheng Yen and other Chinese characters are visible everywhere in the school. This unwavering and enduring love has provided the children with a spiritual home in Sultangazi City, giving them the courage to move forward.


A Jing Si Aphorism says: “Gratitude is the most beautiful language in the world, and it is the most sincere way of treating one another.”

Join Tzu Chi. Let us bring gratitude everywhere we go.


May 11, 2023 | By Nadya Chou and Xiu-Ling Wu / Report from  Türkiye

【News】Tzu Chi in The World