Mandarin Immersion Senior Profile: Julianne Tawara

The Capistrano Valley Class of 2024 will include the first ever graduates of the Mandarin Immersion Program. CUSD Insider asked the seniors to reflect on their time with the program and share what they have planned for after graduation.

Julianne Tawara

Julianne Tawara of the Mandarin Immersion Program at Capistrano Valley High.
Photo by Steven Georges/CUSD Insider

When did you start in the Mandarin Immersion Program?

1st Grade- 2011

Why did you join the Mandarin Immersion Program?

My mom wanted me to join because I’m half Taiwanese and she wanted me to be able to communicate with my grandmother. It was honestly a pretty last-minute decision, and my parents had to sacrifice a lot of their time just to drive me to school, because at the time we lived in Anaheim. But now that I’m older, I see how helpful learning Chinese will be in my future and the opportunities it will open up to me.

What are your plans after you graduate from CUSD?

I plan on attending a four-year university to study journalism and business, minoring in East Asian Studies. My dream is to one day own my own business and travel the world.

What other activities were you involved with in high school?

I was the Editor-in-Chief and a writer & photographer for the CVHS Times for 3 years. I was also Lead Critic for Capo’s Cappies Team, a team of writers that publishes critiques of high school theatre productions around Orange County. Additionally, I was also a Songleader for the pep squad at Capo for 3 years and competed both regionally and nationally in Pom. I was also involved with Capo’s theatre arts program as both a performer and crew member. I completed many hours of community service through clubs such as CSF and NHS. I also held several officer positions in many other clubs at Capo such as the CVHS Photography Club, Chinese Culture Club, National Chinese Honors Society, CVHS Chess Club and the Escape Magazine.

What was your favorite part of the Mandarin Immersion Program experience?

My favorite part of the Mandarin Immersion Program has definitely been the people that I’ve met here. Through joining this program, I have met some of my closest friends, and being able to grow up with them since 1st grade has truly been an honor.

What aspect of the Mandarin Immersion Program surprised you the most?

I was the most surprised at not only the language I have learned but also how I was able to connect with the culture. Events like Chinese Culture Night and our Chinese New Year celebrations through the program exposed me to all different kinds of things such as traditional folk tales, how to make dumplings by hand, and Chinese calligraphy, etc. Even though I am half Taiwanese, my parents have lived in America for most of their lives so I wasn’t really exposed to a lot of those traditional holidays and history. Being in the MIP program, I was able to learn a lot about my own culture.

How has the Mandarin Immersion Program prepared you for life after graduation?

I have not only learned a language through the MIP Program, but it has also prepared me to be open-minded and seek higher, skills I will take with me into my life after graduation. Through the immersion of culture and language, I have learned to see the world from another perspective, and through the challenging curriculum, I have learned how to persevere, problem-solve, and set myself to higher standards.

How will you use your Mandarin knowledge in your daily life?

I hope to use Chinese in my journalism and business endeavors, connecting with people on a global scale and bridging cultural gaps. The MIP Program has introduced me to my love of learning other cultures and I hope that I can further my exploration of this in university. As if it were our own secret language, I will also continue to communicate in Chinese with my grandmother and my friends.

What advice would you give other students considering joining the Mandarin Immersion Program?

Stick with it! It may not seem like something that could be very helpful now, but once you get here, you’ll see how valuable the skills the program teaches you are and the abilities you’ll gain that not many other students have. It’s so worth it in the end, stay positive and persevere ūüôā

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