With each new year, Collegiate’s Upper School receives an array of new teachers. Starting second semester last year, and continuing into the present 2015-2016 school year, Senorita Ling Fung-Wu is one of those (semi-) new teachers. Senorita Ling teaches Spanish, previously taught freshman and sophomore classes, and currently this year is teaching junior and senior classes.
Originally born and raised in Venezuela, she decided she wanted to move to the states, and moved to Florida when she was seventeen. Eventually Senorita Ling even moved to New York, giving her a very diverse living experience. Growing up in a Chinese colony (a community of Chinese families) in Venezuela, Ling describes the experience as “rough.” She remembers being the only Chinese person in her four classes, and the second or third Chinese person in the whole school, and felt as though she didn’t fit in. “In Latin-American countries we don’t have this filter, so there’s no idea of political correctness, and it was a different time too. There was a lot of bullying, name calling, and it was difficult being Chinese-born Latin American, because for the Chinese people, I wasn’t Chinese enough.” Ling moved to Florida but didn’t particularly like that either, so she moved to New York. After living in New York for years, studying at Montclair State University, and then at Pennsylvania State University, she and her sister decided to move their parents to Virginia, and then ultimately decided to move along with them.
“It’s funny, ’cause now, when I talk about home, I think about New York City.”
Senorita Ling is extremely passionate about New York, and during the interview kept going back to New York, whether it be about food, driving, or living in a community. Her favorite thing about New York, however, and the thing she misses the most, is the diversity.
“It’s the seven train. It goes from Time Square New York to Main St. Flushing. And every stop that train makes, it’s a different world. It’s amazing, because when you go from Times Square to Queensboro Plaza, you can take a train to Astoria, where all the Greek people live. From 33[rd Street] to 52[nd Street], all Irish. From 52 to probably 69, that’s Indian. From 69 to 74 that’s Filipino. From the 70s around to 92 that’s all Hispanic. But even in the Hispanic stations there’s different countries. And all the way past that into Main St., that’s Chinatown. Walk two or three blocks, you have Koreatown. Imagine just that, all this culture, the signs are all in their own languages, the smells are all different. You walk into there and it’s like a microcosm of these different countries. And the food, it’s wonderful.”
Senorita Ling is also very passionate about food, and multicultural foods, and the many global food options in New York. She misses the variety, but still likes the food here. El Caporal has been suggested to her by students multiple times, by myself included, but, “I’m not crazy about Mexican food” she tells me.
When I asked her how she felt about the year so far, Senorita Ling said, “I’m very happy with my classes. They’re very respective, and they’re very open minded.” Senorita Ling tells me diversity is extremely important to her, and that she tries to weave in different cultures and traditions into her teaching. Ling says that she gives her students the opportunity to always express their own opinion, but if they do so they have to stand by it, and be able to back it up. “New York would actually be a great exposure for all my students, in terms of culture and diversity… What I would really want to teach, along with Spanish, is understanding. Rather than tolerance, but understanding. Knowing that you are different, and with these differences we might not agree on certain things, but I can respect your ideas, and you can respect my ideas.” Senorita Ling said she is looking forward to the rest of the year, and she’s already made an impact on her students.
Photos courtesy of Ms. Ling.