Unveiling the Unsung Heroes: Recognizing the Outstanding Contributions of CLP Student Employees

The Chinese Language Program (CLP) recently held its annual Student Employee Appreciation event to celebrate the remarkable efforts of its teaching assistants, Work Learn assistants, and volunteers (TAWLV), who have worked diligently throughout the year to assist Mandarin learners in improving their language proficiency and promote intercultural appreciation through a host of events.

The CLP community gathered at the Liu Institute on a bright and sunny Saturday morning, and the event kicked off with a plentiful potluck, where the TAWLVs each brought their favourite foods to share with everyone. TAWLVs and teachers flooded the room with their lively chatter and laughter over lunch.

A group of students gathered to play Uno

This year’s employee appreciation event was hosted by Songyan Ni, CLP’s Oral Practice Coordinator, and Irene Zhang, a Work Learn from CLP’s Social Media and Events team, who guided the TAWLVs through fun-filled activities during the day. The hosts also graciously thanked the TAWLVs who have made remarkable contributions to the CLP through their hard work and dedication. Over the past year, TAWLVs have created a warm and professional learning environment by building students’ confidence during their language practice; this has not gone unnoticed by fellow students, evident from hundreds of their Padlet submissions, in which they expressed personal appreciation towards TAWLVs’ patience, positivity, and support in helping them improve their language skills.

The hosts showcase students’ heartfelt messages of gratitude to the TAWLVs for their unwavering support through the term

TAWLVs brought their passion to a game of trivia, which put their knowledge of Chinese culture to the test. The questions were not without their difficulties, but TAWLVs eagerly rose to the challenge and impressed teachers with their rapid responses to the questions. The trivia game was a testament to the CLP’s community spirit and the dedication of its student employees to make cross-cultural learning fun and engaging.

TAWLVs eagerly participate in a heated game of trivia

The joyful activities continued in a game of charades, as players shouted and acted out clues with enthusiasm for their team members, showcasing the supportive and collaborative community that has been built within the CLP.

Hosts, Songyan Ni and Irene Zhang, guide the TAWLVs through an engaging game of charades

Through working for the CLP, TAWLVs have not only fostered a supportive environment in which Mandarin language learners can flourish, but they have also gained invaluable intercultural awareness and enhanced their professional development skills by building genuine connections within the community. Erik Wang, a Social Media and Events Work Learn who is also a second-year Mathematics student, says he was inspired to work at the CLP after volunteering for them and observing the great work environment the program has fostered. Moreover, he discusses the particular skill sets he has gained through working with the program, and how it prepared him to work outside of academia.

Erik Wang, second-year student majoring in Mathematics

“Throughout my time as a Work Learn, I’ve learned many applicable skills from graphic design to the WordPress environment, but the most valuable asset I’ve picked up is undoubtedly teamwork and communication skills… Overall, I’d say that the CLP has been a very realistic introduction to the intricacies of working in the real world.”

Erik Wang, Social Media and Events Work Learn

On the other hand, Irene Zhang, another Social Media and Events Work Learn and a fourth-year Commerce Student, notes how working at the CLP has given her the opportunity to develop and utilize her creative skill sets to give back to the students in her cultural community. Furthermore, the CLP’s working environment, which is heavily situated within a cultural context, helps Irene connect with her heritage and gives her unique event planning opportunities.

Irene Zhang, fourth-year student majoring in Commerce with a minor in Asian Studies

“The CLP provides incredible experiences and opportunities for students learning Chinese, and I wanted to become a TAWL to bring these incredible offerings to these students. Specifically, I leverage my skills in marketing and design to craft compelling and meaningful messages that resonate with students. My time with the CLP has also allowed me to improve my Chinese through communication in a work context and provided me with the opportunity to coordinate the annual Chinese Bridge Singing Competition.”

Irene Zhang, Social Media and Events WorkLearn

To express gratitude to all the hardworking TAWLVs for their exceptional contributions to the CLP, a raffle draw was organized, and as a special surprise, the hosts showcased a heartwarming Padlet flooded with submissions from volunteers expressing their appreciation to the TAWLs for their patience and guidance throughout the year, a testament to the uplifting and positive relationships that have blossomed between volunteers and TAWLs this year.

Thank-you messages from volunteers to the TAWLs

Dallan Hogenson, a non-heritage volunteer for the CLP and a first-year UBC student, explained that because he was looking for ways to become more involved in and positively contribute to the Chinese language learning community, his Chinese teacher suggested he join the CLP volunteer program.

Dallan Hogenson, first-year UBC student

“Along the way, I have enjoyed helping other people on their journey to learn more about the Chinese language and culture. It has been a great opportunity to reflect on my own journey as a non-native speaker, as well as to further develop my communication skills.”

Dallan Hogenson, CLP Oral Practice Volunteer

Demetria Hu, a second-year student majoring in International Relations, was inspired to become an Oral Practice volunteer due to her previous experience in Chinese class. She wanted to give back to the community that had immensely helped her with her language and cultural learning experience. Therefore, her prior experiences in oral practice motivated her to apply as a volunteer.

Demetria Hu, second-year student majoring in International Relations

“My experience as an Oral Practice Volunteer has been relaxing and rewarding! The staff and students are friendly, open-minded, and amazing to work with. I find that because I’ve had a firsthand experience as a student in Oral Practice, I wanted to understand how I can contribute to the language learning experience as a volunteer, and guiding other students towards connecting with Chinese culture has been a very fulfilling and full circle experience.”

Demetria Hu, CLP Oral Practice Volunteer

The event was made even more special by the attendance of older TAWLs, who inspired current TAWLVs with their wisdom. The latter learn from their predecessors’ experiences and are now making their own contributions to the CLP. These older TAWLs have made remarkable contributions in setting up a strong foundation for the CLP’s co-curricular and extracurricular activities, which have been instrumental to the program’s continued success. Their involvement and support demonstrate how the CLP community continues to evolve while maintaining a strong sense of community at its core.

Older Cohort of CLP’s Coordinators who attended the event to cheer on this year’s TAWLVs

Jennifer You, CHIN 133 Teaching Assistant Coordinator and a fourth-year student majoring in English Literature, notes how joining the CLP has become much more than a career opportunity.

Jennifer You, fourth-year student majoring in English Literature

“I initially joined the CLP because I thought it was a great job opportunity, but I stayed because of the great community. As well, because I am a Canadian-born Chinese, it was super gratifying to be able to connect to my culture, learn about my language, and make new friends from relatively the same background all while working!”

Jennifer You, CHIN 133 Teaching Assistant Coordinator

Kai-Li Tan, CLP’s Human Resources Coordinator and a third-year student majoring in Economics, says she leveraged the opportunity to work for the CLP because it stood out to her as a place where passion and talent came together to create something truly remarkable. She notes that she was particularly drawn to how the CLP celebrated diversity within its community and beyond, and it’s been a privilege to have learned from such a diverse team of like-minded individuals. For Kai-Li, the CLP is also a place where she has the potential to expand her horizons and challenge herself in a workplace that prioritizes peer-to-peer learning.

Kai-Li Tan, third-year student majoring in Economics

“As a heritage Chinese language learner myself, navigating a largely bilingual workplace also enabled me to grow my Chinese language skills exponentially, except in a much more authentic way. This past year has constantly pushed me beyond my comfort zone to explore more about my own professional skill sets, grow more confidence in myself and recognize the potential I have to go further.”

Kai-Li Tan, CLP TAWLV Human Resources Coordinator

At the end of the event, exceptional TAWLVs were recognized in an awards ceremony for their contributions to the CLP’s success. The awardees included the “Best Little Helper,” “Best Firefighting Team,” and “God of Talent.” In addition, teachers created a Padlet and special video to express gratitude towards all TAWLVs for their hard work. The TAWLVs’ dedication and efforts have helped students make significant progress in their language learning, and without them, the CLP would not run as smoothly. The CLP fosters a supportive community that empowers TAWLVs and students to grow into their best selves.

Yang Xiaoyi and Yuan Yunyao, CLP volunteers who won the “Best Little Helper” award

Chen Yanxin, CLP volunteer who won the “Best Firefighting Team” award

Molly Liao, a CLP Social Media and Events volunteer who won the “God of Talent” award

Professor Qian Wang, the CLP Director, took a moment to express her gratitude towards the student employees who have been the backbone of the program’s success. These unsung heroes work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the smooth functioning of the program’s activities, including co-curricular and extracurricular learning activities. Without their dedication, the students’ language learning experience would not be as fruitful, and the program would not have attained the level of excellence it has achieved today. The CLP Director’s appreciation is a testament to the value that every person’s hard work and dedication are essential in achieving a common goal. The CLP community is fortunate to have such dedicated student employees who go above and beyond their call of duty to ensure its success.

CLP Director Prof. Qian Wang expresses gratitude towards the backbone of CLP’s success – Its dedicated employees!

In conclusion, the Chinese Language Program owes its success to the incredible dedication and generosity of its volunteers, teaching assistants, Work Learns, and professors. Their hard work and talented skills have enabled the program to provide an exceptional language learning experience to its students. The CLP is not just a language program but a community that fosters personal and professional growth. Once again, a gracious thank-you to all the contributors for their invaluable support and commitment to the program’s success.
The CLP is looking for new volunteers to take up the baton in the upcoming year. Summer volunteer recruitments will start in early May, so if you’re interested, look out for exciting new opportunities to join the dedicated and supportive team at CLP through our Instagram!

Written by Kate Cowell
Edited by Shih-wei Wang