Wynee Sade remembers that when she was a child, she would scream and kick all the way to Mandarin language school on Saturdays, asking her mother, “Why do I have to go? My other school friends don’t have to leave!”
But when she grew up and had her own daughter, she decided it was important to keep in touch with the Chinese culture of her family. So Sade and her husband started looking for a school near their home in the Bay Area that taught Mandarin.
Sade: “We looked at public and private schools in Oakland, which are great, but you can’t learn a language until much later, and you can’t learn Chinese even then. It just wasn’t an option.”
Sade soon found out that other parents were having the same problems.
“There were a few families in the same situation as us, so we asked, ‘What would it take to start our own school?’ What would have to be done?’ Sade said, “The idea came about because there is a real need for it out here, and we don’t see the right school for our children.”
Together with four other families, she and her husband decided to start their own dual-language Mandarin immersion school. They got together at each other’s houses with nothing but a blank sheet of paper and started the long and hard work of starting what would become the Yu Ming Charter School.
It took two years, but in 2011, the first 100 students started going to Yu Ming Charter School. Here is a condensed version of a conversation in which Sade talks about the steps they need to take to make their dream school happen.