By James Niedzinski
---- — DERRY — Those who say there is not enough foreign culture in town just haven’t looked hard enough.
The Derry Chinese School began classes last week, offering Chinese language for students at a variety of skill levels.
The open house for the school was held earlier this month at the Marion Gerrish Community Center on 39 West Broadway. The school opened in 2003, and has since been offering cooking classes, cultural classes and language classes as apart of its curriculum.
So far, the school has nearly 20 members, all learning Mandarin Chinese. People may still sign up, provided the class has not moved to far, principal Nita Robichaud said.
Robichaud, who was born in Shanghai and moved to New Hampshire about two years ago, said there has been a decline in students. Last year, the school had about 50 students. She said the decline may be because of cultural differences.
“September is a big soccer season,” she said. “American parents may be more focused on sports, while Chinese parents tend to focus on academics.”
Despite the dropping numbers, Robichaud has high hopes for the upcoming year. Music lessons for the erhu, a Chinese string instrument, as well as business and private tutoring may offered in the future, Robichaud said.
“The main goal of this school is to promote the Chinese culture and language thoughout Southern New Hampshire,” Chinese School Board Chairman Tom Grodt said.
Grodt, who has an adopted daughter from China, continues to be an active member of the school.
Classes are every Saturday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. until Jan. 9. There is a $200 registration fee. For more information on the Derry Chinese School, email Nita Robichaud at email@example.com.