Q: Hello Jasmine, between running your schools and preparing for the Workshop, it must be a busy time for you?
A: Yes, life is very busy at the moment. But when you love what you are doing, being busy is always a good thing. Mandarin House is now almost 7 years old and I’m very pleased with the progress and development of our school. The workshop is such a wonderful opportunity, that preparing for it has really been a blessing in that I’ve had the chance to re-introduce myself to Shanghai, which is constantly changing and improving.
Q: How did you feel when you found out Shanghai would be the host city for the event?
A: I felt very proud. It’s a great honor for Mandarin House, and Shanghai, to host such an important workshop. It’s really special for me to have a chance to share my city, and introduce my school, to all our wonderful IALC members and agents.
Q: Shanghai has clearly embraced urban growth and prosperity. How dramatically has it changed in your lifetime?
A: When I was a young girl Shanghai was a town just beginning to re-open itself up to the world. Back then life was much simple and less hectic, more time was taken to spend with our friends and families. Today, Shanghai is one of the most interesting and dynamic cities in the world. It’s a mega-city, and future financial capital, of over 20 million people and the pace of life is fast. It is very much like New York City, it’s very fashionable, very style conscious; and everybody is in a rush to do business. It’s a very exciting place to be!
Q: As a result of the expansion and tourism boom, has the West left a permanent foot-print on the city or is there an effort to preserve and highlight the historic architecture and cultural traditions?
A: Shanghai is a wonderful mixture of traditional Chinese culture and modern urbanism. There is no doubt that the west has left a strong footprint in Shanghai, as the city was a foreign-owned port from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Much of Shanghai’s historic river front (The Bund) still boasts beautiful British, Dutch and French architecture from that era. A few blocks from river front (or Bund) are small old traditional Chinese-style lane houses that have been wonderfully preserved and date back to the early 1900s. And of course, most people are very familiar with Shanghai’s massive skyscrapers and bustling financial district; so I would tend to tell people that Shanghai is a real "melting pot" of culture, style, cuisine and architecture. There is truly something for everyone in Shanghai.
Q: The spotlight will be firmly set on the city, with the press and many agents and schools converging to do business there. What do you think they will make of Shanghai?
A: I think they will be amazed by how modern, and visitor-friendly, Shanghai is. Shanghai is currently hosting the World Expo and our city has received some 45 million visitors from all over the world, and so far the response has been great. I have no doubt that our media partners, member schools and agents will feel equally welcome and fully enjoy their stay in Shanghai.
Q: Which single attraction or site should visitors not miss when they come to visit?
A: I think the one attraction that no one should miss is a walk through the Old Town in Shanghai, especially near Yu Garden. As Shanghai moves firmly with both feet in to the modern era, it’s these little charming neighborhoods that still boast traditional lifestyle and culture and they are a real favorite among our overseas guests.
Q: The Chinese are very proud of their food dishes. Does Shanghai have a specialty dish or food type?
A: Shanghai is perhaps most famous for Chinese dumplings, or more specifically the Xiao Long Bao or soup dumplings. But with so many different cultures and nationalities represented in Shanghai deciding where to eat every night can be a really tough decision to make. So after a long day at the office I often just prefer to sit down with a big bowl of traditional Shanghai soup dumplings, or Xiao Long Bao, it’s my favorite meal.
Q: The World Expo is currently being held in Shanghai. What’s the atmosphere like in the city?
A: The atmosphere is one of excitement and optimism. Shanghai has really undergone a massive transformation in the last few years leading up to the World Expo. The city’s entire infrastructure has been re-built and improved. There are new: airports, subway systems, high-speed trains, roads, expressways, and skyscrapers. As an example just four years ago Shanghai had only 2 subway lines, one going East/West and one going North/South. Today Shanghai has 11 subway lines. There is a lot of optimism for the future in Shanghai. The last few years have been good, and the future is looking bright as China continues to open and embrace economic cooperation with the whole world.
Q: As the IALC Workshop host, the event organization is always a challenge. However your school, Mandarin House has the opportunity to showcase its facilities and services. What are the main benefits of learning Chinese at your school in Shanghai?
A: The main benefit of learning Chinese at Mandarin House in Shanghai or in Beijing, is that we create a level of professionalism and organization that isn’t available elsewhere in the Chinese Market. Yes, our curriculum is strong and our teachers go through an excellent training program, but the key is that we bring global language learning standards to our schools in Shanghai and Beijing.
Thank you Jasmine and we look forward to seeing you in Shanghai in April 2011.
Click HERE for further information on the 2011 IALC Workshop.
Mandarin House has schools in Shanghai and Beijing.