One February 17th I visited the Male Leadership Academy of Charlotte. My boss spoke so highly of this academic institution and was so excited for me to see what it was all about. Anticipating our visit and wanting to be fully prepared, I googled the website the day before. I started reading various bios and mission statements. The first thing that I noticed was that the MLAC held a God-centered education policy. This brought me back because I attended a Christian high school which also valued a God-centered education. Soon after looking at the website I was more than excited to visit this school and observe the students during their Mandarin class.

The atmosphere of MLAC is cozy and inviting. Samantha and I wanted to take a group picture of the boys before going into the classroom to observe. These polite little gentlemen walked out in their spiffy uniforms and were more than happy to smile and say "cheeeeese" for what seemed like 50 frames. They were so patient! The first thing I noticed that there was only a small group of students. This again brought me back to my time in high school because I only graduated with only two other people. I had a feeling that this was a close-knit group of boys which was very heart-warming to me. After group pictures we made our way back to the classrooms. One of the kindergartener's was more than happy to hold the door open for me, chivalry shown even in the smallest of men!

The Mandarin teacher, Ms. Zhao, had made us signs that said "we love Chinese class" and "thank you for supporting us" in the Chinese language. We then had the lovely opportunity to observe a minute of the boys reviewing their Mandarin vocabulary, they were learning about families that day. We hopped on over to the second classroom where the older boys were learning synonyms and antonyms. When we asked if we could take pictures and Mrs. Miller happily agreed and then announced "scholars, pencils down please." Treating these young boys as young scholars, I love it! I felt that this title gave the boys a sense of pride in their learning experience.

In some of my college classes we learn that young children learn and retain a foreign language better than adults because the mind is so impressionable at that age. I'm glad to see that administrations are starting to notice this difference in development and taking advantage of that small window to teach these students something that will help them in the future.

First of all, I have never met anyone that could speak Mandarin. Not many primary schools teach the language, so of course I had to ask why these young gentlemen were learning Mandarin. Mrs. Curry, one of the administrators, told me the reason the boys learn Mandarin is that it gives them a "global edge" for the future because how many African American boys speak Mandarin? In the world of international business I know that Mandarin is a popular language, so this "global edge" she spoke of made perfect sense to me.  

Overall, my experience at MLAC was a memorable one. I'm fortunate to have received the opportunity to actually go and visit a place that has received financial support from SCC. It was great to see the smiling faces of these "scholars" and see that the grants we give are extremely beneficial.

Written By: Emily Brown, SCC Intern