Ms. Xia is the new Chinese teacher at BSGE and she teaches eighth, tenth, and eleventh graders.
Where are you from? Shanghai, China. I was born and raised in the city.
What did you parents do? They are in China now. My father is a chemist and he was like a magician; he was able to answer any questions I had. My mother is a designer and she didn’t speak a lot, but she would take care of us. I grew up with two older sisters.
What was school like when you were in high school? I went to a specialized high school about 30 years ago. I remember taking a math test every Monday after school, because my teacher didn’t want to waste teaching time in class. It made me unafraid of any test. Also, the classroom was much different because girls could not sit with boys. We were not encouraged to date in high school. I knew only one couple in high school who secretly dated and no one found out until college.
What did you like to do for fun as a teenager? We would go to a rollerskating rink near school. It’s really crowded in Shanghai, so we couldn’t just roller skate on the streets.
Did you have any pets? I used to have a panda rabbit. It was black and white, and miniature so no matter how much it ate it would never get fat. But when I had my son, I had to give my rabbit away because he would play with the rabbit by squeezing him.
Do you have a favorite color? Maybe white, green? I’m colorblind, so I try not to say the color of things because I’m usually wrong.
Did you go to school in China? Yes, I graduated from a university in China. I moved here in 1993. Before I came to America, I was in Tokyo. I got a scholarship from a university in Tokyo and got a Master’s degree in Japanese.
What made you choose your major? I started teaching myself Japanese and French when I was in sixth grade by listening to the radio. I decided to study Japanese because I was told by my high school advisers that it was easier to get a job with that skill. I didn’t major in English because we started to learn it in elementary school. By the time I graduated from high school, I thought my English was okay, so I wanted to pursue another language. I love language.
What did you do after getting your Master’s degree? I started teaching Japanese to foreigners as a second language in Japan. I didn’t want to lose my English skills so I thought about studying English some more. I took the TOEFL, GRE, and applied to universities in America. I got a scholarship from St. John’s University.
What was your first teaching job in America? I was a teacher’s assistant at St. John’s. Over the summer of 1994, I was teaching Chinese and Japanese at a private school.
What led you to teaching at BSGE? I came to BSGE because I heard good things about the IB program and I wanted my son to go for the IB diploma. I know that this program is very challenging; more challenging than APs. I found out that most of the students in this school can take the IB exams and many get the IB diploma, so right away I knew this was a good school.
Does your son go to this school? No, he goes to school in New Jersey because that’s where we live. He’s in 9th grade and his name is Jeffrey. His school does not offer Chinese so he’s taking Spanish and he gets good grades.
Is Jeffrey your only child? Yes. I also wanted to have a daughter, because in Chinese, the character for girl and the character for boy put together says “good.” I thought about having another child after having my son, but then people told me that I would have another boy, not a girl. I’m a little superstitious so I believed them.
What name would you give your daughter? Something short and American like Grace or Hope. But if I gave them a Chinese name, it would take time. I would first think of three characters, then read a book explaining whether the combination of strokes would be lucky; the first and last names are like omens.
What does your Chinese name mean? My first name is Meifen and it means “beautiful flower.”
How would you describe your students? They are motivated, disciplined, and they want to learn. They are fabulous.
Christmas is coming up! Do you celebrate? I don’t really celebrate it spiritually but I give gifts to my family; I think it’s an opportunity to show your love.