Q&A With Chunmei Guan About Bridging the Gap Between American and Chinese Cultures


Gretchen Prifogle

Along with teaching Chinese, Chunmei Guan helps run Chinese Club. The club regularly explores Chinese culture like food and dance. She also help create the LHS Multiculural Festival.

What do you like most about Chinese culture?

I like the harmonious human relationship in Chinese culture. It is rare to see lawsuits among family members.  Then, I love the various yummy food in Chinese culture, which is fascinating for celebrating festivals. I love the harmonious relationships among people. Confucianism is the core culture in East Asian countries like China, Korea and Japan, which greatly influences human relationships. Being benevolent and loving are the key points, which will help to keep and build good relationships. 

What inspired you to teach Chinese?

I would like to be a bridge to connect Chinese culture and American culture, which will help the mutual understanding. There are lots of misconceptions and misunderstandings between Chinese culture and American culture. That is why we could see and hear some anti-Asian hate words in the U.S. Even in China, there are lots of misunderstandings about American culture. For example, some Chinese people thought all Americans were rich and live in big cities like New York.

Do you dislike anything about Chinese culture?

I do not like the alcohol culture, which has no age limitation like that in the U.S. Some people like to persuade or force others to drink more alcohol, which is harmful to their health and causes some accidents and tragedies. 

Why do Chinese people celebrate different zodiac signs each year?

That is an essential part of Chinese culture, which even influences their business and life, including their birthday celebration, wedding, marriage, health, names, etc. The importance of the zodiac to Chinese culture is that the animal signs have been used in stories and folklore. These developed the different personality traits that were represented with each animal. Still, even today, millions of people in China believe these predictions and “superstitions” that are described within the Chinese zodiac. Some in the Chinese culture have also based their relationships according to the zodiac.

How would you teach a student who is struggling with the Chinese language?

It depends. If a student is struggling with the Chinese language, I will talk to him or her and figure out where I could help him or her out. I will give them more flexibility to accommodate their study. I will try my best to help him or her.