This week, the Warrior Word sat down with math teacher Ms. Liu. In this week’s interview, get to know Ms. Liu as she enlightens us with her views on math, Chinese history, and much more.
Tziyona Gheblikian: Hi! So where in China are you from?
Ms. Liu: I am from Chengde, which is pretty close to Beijing. Almost two hours away.
TG: What was it like growing up there?
Ms.L: It isn’t a very big town, but we have a huge park that was built during the Qing Dynasty. A lot of my childhood consisted of my parents and I going to this park on the weekends. We would just walk around and relax there. I grew up in a town called Summer Resort which is really famous, tourists would come from all over to visit the grand park. The story behind its popularity is something like that of the Emperor being really busy, as expected, so he couldn’t travel to the places that he wanted to. Because of this, he decided to build the park in order to attract people from everywhere; bringing the places that he desired to travel straight to him.
TG: That sounds awesome! What lead you towards a career in mathematics?
Ms.L: At first, my Undergraduate degree was in Applied Mathematics, and I thought that I was just going to focus on that specifically. I was a tutor at the time, so many students asked me questions and I loved to help them. It felt like a big achievement for me to be able to understand the material and help the ones who didn’t. From this, I decided to change my whole plan to Math Education.
TG: Have you always enjoyed learning math as a child?
Ms.L: Well, I can understand why students don’t like math. They think it’s not useful in our daily life. I had the same thoughts as a student and didn’t exactly like math either. But as I got older, I realized that it’s very beneficial. It can really help you when it comes to life problems, it helps you figure the problems out.
TG: I had never thought about it like that. So what would you say are the best and worst parts about being a math teacher?
Ms.L: One of the best parts is that there is so much teamwork within the class, we all work together. Another is that they are very young, giving you energy and surprises daily. But the worst part for me is that I’m a new teacher, and I don’t have a lot of experience to deal with certain issues. It makes me pretty confused to think about why I can’t do something better, or answer my student as they’d like, but I try. After I finish teaching a class, I think about what I can do better in the next one. It’s not really the worst, but it’s the hard part. Teaching is a difficult job, but I really enjoy it. There are always challenges, but challenges are what make us improve.
TG: So how long have you been teaching for?
Ms.L: This is my second year teaching. Last year, I taught at a public school in Oregon. It is very different in comparison to a private school.
TG: What made you choose to teach in Miami?
Ms.L: I wanted a change of scenery and a warmer climate, considering that it was super cold there, and that I had stayed in the same place for five years.
TG: Well you sure did get a warmer climate. It’s like living in an oven here. What has your experience been like teaching at a Jewish school so far?
Ms.L: I have noticed that the students here love asking questions and that’s a really good thing. I am not a very religious person, so it’s nice being surrounded by people who are religious. Being around people who follow a religion and believe in something makes me feel safe.
TG: Do you have any goals for this year?
Ms.L: Yes, I hope that my students get good grades in my class. Sometimes I give a lot of homework, but I just want them to succeed. I also want the students to understand why we learn math: it’s not for the sole purpose of getting good grades, but it’s for their future. It really is incorporated into our daily lives.
TG: Has it been difficult living in an environment where not many people are fluent in your language?
Ms.L: Yes, very. It’s frustrating when people can’t understand what I’m saying.
TG: And how did you learn to speak English?
Ms.L: In high school we had an English language class, but it was difficult to really learn anything. We never got the chance to practice speaking in English, so realistically, I learned more English once I moved to America, as I am surrounded by a majority of people who speak it fluently.
TG: Did you have any childhood dreams?
Ms.L: I had many. One is that I wanted to be an art teacher, and another dream of mine was to go to Disney World. I love Mickey Mouse. I never really thought that my dream would come true, but I was finally able to go this past break. It was amazing.
By: Tziyona Gheblikian (10th Grade)