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Buffalo to Beijing: High school students forming friendships overseas

Buffalo Seminary students learn to speak and write Mandarin
Posted at 1:58 PM, May 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-11 07:10:54-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Despite COVID-19 restrictions and being thousands of miles away, students at Buffalo Seminary are making connections with students in Beijing.

"I've always wanted a pen pal. It's interesting. I'm in North America, they're in Asia, two completely different continents and I don't experience a lot of Asian culture here, outside of Mandarin class," said Alivia Raczyk, a Freshman.

Buff Sem first started offering this class in 2019. Students try the food, learn about the culture and of course, the language.

"It's hard to learn...it's characters, there's no 'ABCDEF', but once you get in there, there's more to explore," said Martha Odhiambo.

It's the fifth language for Odhiambo, including her mother tongue of Luo, Swahili, English and Spanish. She's originally from Kenya, where she wrote to pen pals here in America. Now, she writes to friends in China, hoping to make a lasting bond.

"Maybe I get to meet them one day, it's about connection, it's about the love we share for each other," said Odhiambo.

Students did live presentations and introduced themselves and their interests to their new pals.Teacher Wen Guo is originally from just outside of Beijing. She built the bridge between the two schools and says she's proud to share her culture.

"They develop their global citizenship in this community...Use the language to make a bridge and make friends with people and make the world a peaceful place," said Guo.

Something they hope catches on to the greater WNY community this month as we recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

"Learning about the culture brings about a better understanding about the world around us, and I think it brings together a sort of unity," said Dakota Clay, a Junior.