Giving Story of BCS

Giving Story of Blacksburg Chinese School

Written by I-Mo Fu

Why did I give to Blacksburg Chinese School ? Why did I give to Blacksburg Chinese School? I gave and will continue to give because I appreciate those who unselfishly contributed in the past to make the school successful. I want to continue to give to support new programs that further promote language and cultural appreciation.

It all started in the Wang family’s kitchen over 40 years ago. The Wangs were one of the first Chinese families in Blacksburg, the home of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI), in the Appalachian region of southwest Virginia.

Dr. Joseph Wang’s two older American-born children were the first 2 students taking Chinese language lessons from their Chinese piano teacher. In 1979, the Chinese School of VPI officially registered with IRS as a non-profit organization. Mrs. Sylvia Wong was its first principal. Over the 40 years that followed, more Chinese professors and professionals settled in Blacksburg. Their American-born children joined the Chinese classes because a Chinese language curriculum was not offered in the local schools. Today the Blacksburg Chinese School has around 100 students from both Chinese and non-Chinese families enrolled in its language and cultural classes. Dr. Wang the co-founder’s 9-year-old grandson is among them.

The school was renamed the Blacksburg Chinese School (BCS) in 2010 when Xiaojin Moore became the principal. Also at this time, she applied for 501(c) 3 status that had lapsed. Many parents and volunteers have served as school officers without monetary compensation so that student tuition could be kept low to encourage participation. Recently, teacher salaries, which for many years were the school's only expense, have been increased to competitive levels to attract the most qualified teachers. Since most families are affiliated with VPI, which today is called Virginia Tech (VT), classes in the early years were held in university classrooms and later the VT Cranwell International Center free of charge. However, in 2014, BCS lost all its free classroom space when the Cranwell International Center was relocated. BCS was forced to rent classroom space at different locations in Blacksburg until occupying its current location in 2018.

Blacksburg Chinese School’s mission is now broader than language education. Improving the appreciation and understanding of Chinese culture is also a priority. BCS students, parents, and families have reached out to community institutions including libraries, private and public schools, and universities during their annual celebrations of Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Moon, the two major traditional Chinese celebrations. They have also participated in the local Holiday Parade with award-winning floats each December. In recent years, both Chinese and non-Chinese families have requested through the school board that Chinese language courses be incorporated in the foreign language curriculum at Blacksburg Middle and High Schools. A grant was received to initiate a pilot language program at the middle school this year.

In 2018 under the leadership of the new Board of Directors, BCS moved to its current location. For the first time, the school has a home in one centralized location. Now BCS families can schedule activities such as intergenerational game nights, weekly gatherings for grandparents, and social interactions with non-Chinese friends such as singing, dancing, and playing mahjong together.

Funding for a future permanent building for Blacksburg Chinese School and a Cross-Cultural Center for promoting appreciation and understanding are the reasons that I will continue to give.