These voluntary classes are meant to facilitate communication between the Department and the Chinese community during the emergencies and daily encounters. Students have one-on-one interaction with one another during each 2 hour class. We communicate in English and in Mandarin to one another relating to the covered topic. Following 50 minutes of class schedule, in traditional FDNY fashion, we then share a light meal together. Social interactions peak during this time as we all share in our common interests, network, and building lasting friendship. Following this, we resume class for another 50 minutes. Since the program is curriculum based, attendance every week will provide the continuity required for learning proficiency, however, attendance is always voluntary.
Jonathan Chen: I was born in Flushing, Queens to a family of immigrants from Taiwan, an island formerly governed by the ROC (Republic of China) and now considered a province of China. Growing up on Long Island, I was taught Mandarin at an early age from my Grandmother whose life profession was a school teacher specializing in Chinese Poetry and Literature. I vividly remember reciting and memorizing Chinese poems that spoke of abstract implications and relational characteristics between the moon and ocean or wine and warriors. I attended Chinese school throughout my childhood and demonstrated talent that allowed me to move up several grades. For my undergraduate studies, I attended SUNY Binghamton and obtained a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2013. Since graduation, I have worked as an HVAC engineer and have recently taken a sabbatical. Today I continue to enjoy teaching mandarin and using the language whenever possible to bridge cultural divisions between the east and west.
FF. Benjamin Chou