Dr. Jinai Sun
Dr. Jianai Sun received her Ph.D. in Educational Administration at Pennsylvania State University. She has more than fifteen years of experience in Chinese language education and teacher training in the U.S. and abroad. Her research focuses on curriculum and instructional design, particularly through the use of authentic materials toward student motivation in Chinese language classrooms in the U.S. She has served as program director for teacher and student STARTALK programs at North Central College since 2013.
Dr. Xiaoning Chen
Dr. Xiaoning Chen received her doctoral degree in Language and Literacy Education from Purdue University. Dr. Chen is currently an Associate Professor at the College of Education, National Louis University, and teaches ESL/Bilingual Education endorsement courses. Dr. Chen will organize pre, during, and post program curriculum development activities, including both curriculum and assessment aspects, STARTALK online training modules, and program evaluations.
Culture Activity Coordinator
Ms. Mijia Ranquist is an Illinois highly qualified Mandarin Chinese teacher. She received an M.B.A. from University of Illinois at Chicago in 2011, and also received her Master in Teaching in Secondary Education from National Louis University in 2016. She has served in NCC STARTALK programs since 2014, coordinating and leading instruction in cultural activities, which role she will reprise in the 2022-24 residential program.
Teaching & Tech Support Team
Dr. Li Ye
Dr. Ye received her Ph.D. from University of Illinois, Chicago, in 2009. Since 2010 she has been a Chinese instructor and Core Team leader in the World Language Division (WL) at Adlai E. Stevenson High School (SHS) in Lincolnshire, IL, a US News “top three” public high schools in 2014. She has served as the Lead Teacher in NCC STARTALK programs since 2017. Dr. Ye will teach one of the two morning language classes and ensure a seamless instructional experience, overseeing the program curriculum assessments and training of all program teaching staff.
Ms. Kelly Zhang will lead the second morning language class. Ms. Zhang received an M.A. in Applied Linguistics with a concentration in Second Language Acquisition from National Louis University. She has been teaching Chinese in Illinois for six years. She participated in the NCC STARTALK teacher program in 2019 and received excellent reviews from her colleagues. She is currently the lead teacher of Chinese at Morton East High School in Cicero, IL. Ms. Zhang teaches Introductory Chinese to AP Chinese and leads the design of the Chinese program curriculum in her school district.
Qianhui is a Ph.D. candidate in Curriculum Studies at DePaul University and serves as an instructor of Chinese at North Central College. Qianhui has advanced knowledge and skills to use applicable technologies for advancing educational approaches. Her work and research focus on exploring the ways in which technology can be adopted in and beyond the classroom to increase student engagement and maximize their learning satisfaction.
Ms. Yubi Lin has her bachelor's degree and master's degree in Teaching Chinese as Second Language. Since 2013 Ms. Lin has been working as a Mandarin Teacher in the United States. Currently, she is teaching Chinese at Bolingbrook High School and leads the design of the Chinese program in her school district. Ms. Lin has been enjoying her experience with STARTALK: She taught for the STARTALK student program in 2018 and she joined NCC STARTALK teacher program in 2019.
Tutoring & Counseling Team
Ms. Xin Liu has over ten years of Chinese teaching experience both in an immersion environment and in private tutoring, providing her with excellent communication skills with students, instructors, administrative staff, and parents. During the pre-program tutor session, she will tutor the students with well-prepared learning materials from the tutoring team. During the two weeks of the residential program, she will not only provide for the everyday needs of students outside the learning environment but also bridge the gap between studying and applying the students' learning experience to their daily lives during time away from the classroom.
Ms. Judy Zhao will lead the dormitory and food team and ensure that participants' needs are met outside of instructional time. Ms. Zhao has led numerous residential study-abroad programs for Chinese public-school students in the U.S. through MAGA Vacations. She has designed and led intercultural engagement programs with American middle and high school students across suburban Chicagoland for 10 years.
Ms. Yan Li has her bachelor's degree in international business. She has previously worked as a Chinese tutor for North Central College from March 2015 to June 2016, organizing structured tutoring sessions. She also joined the 2015 NCC STARTALK Chinese program as a teaching assistant, preparing lunch conversation sheets and teaching handouts and leading field game activities during the program.
Dominika Szczepaniak is a senior getting her bachelor's degree at North Central College for Chinese and Secondary Education. At North Central College Dominika has experience in tutoring beginner Chinese and helping ELL students in high schools across Illinois. Her main focus is to promote foreign language education in American public schools to create more globally aware students.
Dr. Stuart Patterson
Dr. Patterson, the Chairperson of the Shimer Great Books School at North Central College has been teaching for eighteen years in the Shimer School's specialized general education program focused on classic texts across world traditions through small, student-centered seminars. Lately, he has begun focusing his research and teaching on classical Chinese literature and aesthetics, particularly in the intersections between visual and literary arts. Dr. Patterson will share how he teaches Chinese literary and visual culture through comparisons between classic works of Chinese and Euro-American culture.
Dr. Kyle Anderson
Dr. Kyle Anderson will serve as the Digital Literacy Consultant for the project. He is the VP of Strategic Programming at Academic Programs International and the former Senior Director for the Office of Global Engagement at Clemson University. He also served as an Associate Professor and Chair of Asian and Chinese Studies at Center College. His work on global education has focused primarily on faculty and curriculum development and student global learning outcomes.
Dr. Brian Hoffert
Dr. Brian Hoffert has extensive training and experience researching and teaching Asian and especially Chinese culture, including a Ph.D. from Harvard University for his dissertation "Chuang Tzu: The Evolution of a Daoist Classic." He is currently the Coordinator of the East Asian Studies and History of Ideas programs at North Central College. Dr. Hoffert will share his insights into engaging American students in the study of Chinese culture and texts, particularly through movies as well as a role-immersive activities he has developed through the "Reacting to the Past" methods pioneered at Barnard College.
Dr. Yadong Ji
Dr. Yadong Ji will serve as media literacy consultant in this program. He is an Assistant Professor of communication at North Central College. His research covers intercultural communication and acculturation. He will provide talks on the topic of Chinese culture, Chinese communication styles, and social media in China.
Assistants & Ambassadors
Thanh Huynh will serve as a student ambassador of the program, focusing on promoting the STARTALK program to high school students. She is currently a senior at North Central College with double majors in East Asian Studies / Japanese and a Chinese Minor. Her focus and interest is East Asian Cultures and languages.
Spencer Mulso will serve as a student ambassador of the program, focusing on promoting the STARTALK program to high school students. He is currently a Sophomore at North Central College with a double major in Chinese and Secondary Education and a minor in ELL. He has previously worked as a research assistant for North Central College, conducting research on the types of social media that is widely used in China and how to help implement this material in a way that can enhance the understanding of China and Chinese culture. As well as conducting research to better understand current situations in China such as Taiwan or Xinjiang.
Laurel Murphy will serve as a research assistant throughout the program, focusing on researching and developing pre-program and post-program lesson materials that utilize digital media (podcasts, videos, social media) in a virtual yet culturally immersive manner. She has a bachelor’s degree in History and East Asian Studies with a concentration in Mandarin Chinese. She has previously worked as a research assistant for North Central College, conducting research on students’ motivations to study
Chinese and the benefits of using authentic cultural materials in the classroom.
Junrong Qian will serve as a student ambassador of the program, focusing on promoting the STARTALK program to students who are interested in Chinese language and culture. She worked as a Chinese language tutor for 2 years and now she is currently a Junior at North Central College with a double major in Chinese and Japanese and a minor in Theatre. She gave lessons to beginner Chinese language students in class every Monday. She has previously worked as a research assistant for North Central College, conducting research on how social media helps to promote Chinese language and culture and the difference between Chinese culture and American culture. She made her own videos to promote Chinese culture as well.
Chinese Painting Artist
Fei Yang, a teacher of Chinese Painting, graduated with BA degree in Chinese painting, from Institute of Fine Art of Minzu University of China. She has attended graduate study programs in fashion design from Institute of Fine Art of Tsinghua university and has also attended graduate study program in Chinese landscape painting from Research institute of Chinese painting. With one of her other notable accomplishments being her job of V.P. of Marketing for Beijing Today along with having lots years of working experience in art curation, art gallery operation, art derivatives development and promotion, art economy and art education.
Kung Fu Master
Li Qiang began to practice martial arts at the age of six and joined the Beijing Wushu Team at the age of fifteen. Under the tutelage of the world famous martial arts master Wu Bin, a national athlete, world champion, and a lifetime member of the American Wushu Association. Li is a international referee, who has coached in Hong Kong, Japan, Belgium, Sweden, and other national teams. She has also worked as a technical coach for the movie "House of Flying Daggers". Since 2007, she has been coaching in the United States, the coach of the US National Wushu Team, and her students have won many championships in the United States, Pan-American, and World Wushu Championships.
Menghua Guan, Guzheng performer and tutor, Master’s degree in music from Nanjing Normal University, founder of Menghua Guan Guzheng Studio and Menghua Guan Guzheng Ensemble. She has published eight articles and more than ten of her students have won prizes in prestigious Chinese traditional instruments competitions. She was honored Excellent Music Teacher by Jiangsu Education Department in 2008. After she came to America in 2012, she was invited to give lectures and concerts in Roosevelt University, College of Dupage, Naperville North Central College etc. Menghua Guan was also invited to Millennium Park Guzheng Concerto performance by Chicago Jazz Philharmonic in Jun, 2018.
If “a picture is worth a thousand words,” what is a video worth? Stories sell. June believes the key to effective storytelling lies in how you find a unique vantage point into a subject; and how you maximize visual impact through creativity. A pro photographer and video producer, June has been documenting NCC’s Startalks program since its debut in 2013. She produced videos that tell the complete story of Startalk each summer, as well as creating stunning portraits and memorable candid photos. June holds 2 MS degrees from UIC and is finishing a writing certificate at Northwestern University.