Chinese Students Find New Home at Maranatha

Chinese students Chun Chun Zhang (Patricia) and Wen Qian Shang Guan (Anna) joined the Maranatha student body this fall.

Both were saved after an evangelist spoke at their high school, Eucon International School in Saipan. Anna said she was thankful her parents did not forbid her from coming to a college so far from home. Patricia (below, left) and Anna (above and below, right) both said they chose Maranatha, in part, because of their experiences with alumni teachers at their high school. RuthAnn Ledgerwood (’10), and Toinette Smith (’00) are both Maranatha graduates.

The environment at Maranatha also appealed to them. Because they went to an international high school instead of a Chinese high school, neither took the Gaokao (China’s university entrance exam). This prevented them from attending a Chinese college. Both the girls and their families thought Maranatha was an acceptable alternative because it would provide a safe Christian environment.

The most difficult aspect of life in a foreign country, Patricia and Anna said, is the language. Although they took English classes in Saipan and some teachers taught in English, the students always spoke Chinese. “We never practiced English,” Patricia said. Language has proven to be the greatest difficulty in their classes as well, particularly classes with difficult content like Sociology. Understanding instructions and test questions and memorizing material are all more difficult in a student’s second language.

Both girls said their professors have offered assistance. “They are all willing to help us,” Anna said. “(Early Childhood Education professor Marcele) Kolwinska always gives me a hug after class.”

The girls said church services are also much different in the U.S. The sermons are shorter than in China or Saipan. The church members there sing almost exclusively Psalms and fewer songs overall than American congregations.

Anna and Patricia said they do miss their homes and families as well as familiar Chinese food like noodles, stir fry, and hot pot (Chinese fondue). They are enjoying American food, however, picking chicken nuggets as their favorite so far. They have also enjoyed making s’mores over a bonfire and playing games with their roommates in the dorms.

Both girls are Teacher Education majors, Anna in Early Childhood Education and Patricia in Math Education. The girls are not yet sure whether they will return to China to teach or if God will lead them somewhere else. In the meantime, they say they are enjoying their new friends, food, classes, and teachers at Maranatha.

–By Brynn Fitzsimmons