A Response to the Recent Dorm Student Statement

By Charlie Norgaard

Following the announcement made by several of the dorm students this week with regards to the Sophomore Cultural Event art; the discussion about this topic has been prolific. In the hallways, at lunch tables, and in nearly every classroom, both students and teachers alike have been commenting on the matter.

But amongst all the areas of discussion, the Mandarin classroom has held some of the most frequent and critical dialogue. Given that the majority of the OES upper school student body takes a language other than Mandarin, many students have not had the opportunity to listen in on the Mandarin classroom discussions, and in particular, what Mandarin teacher Chiman Chen has to say about the matter.

Though Chen is from Taiwan, she has a great depth of knowledge about Chinese culture and maintains consistent communication with many of the Chinese students at OES. Since Taiwan and China hold very different political systems, Chen says she wasn’t offended by the incident at the sophomore event, but nevertheless she cares deeply about the consideration of the Chinese student body.

As Chen interpreted it, to these students, the art exhibit was received not only as an insult to the leader, Mao Zedong, but also to the nation as well.

Here is what she had to say about the topic: “It is not a time to make judgements about who is right and who is wrong.  No matter what your stance is on this matter, as an OES community, it is a time to show we care. I’m glad that they are expressing their feelings, and we should appreciate their courage to do so. We need to be more sensitive about the issue. A lot of OES students don’t care about Mao Zedong, however the other students might care a lot. We need to be more understanding of people who come from other nations and cultures, and it’s important that we understand the difference. Doing so would be very beneficial for the communication between the students and different cultures.”

Chen hopes that OES shows “love and respect” to these students, and makes a public statement about the incident in the coming days.