Houston is the most populous city in Texas, with a population of more than 2.3 million people. Just under 50% are non-English speakers, and Mandarin Chinese is the third most common non-English language spoken there, after Spanish and Vietnamese. The Ministry of Education has renewed a 3-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Houston Police Department to continue Survival Mandarin, a program that provides Mandarin training and greater multi-cultural awareness to local police officers. Dr. Yen-Yi Lee, Director General of the Department of International and Cross-strait Education of the Ministry of Education and Houston Police Department Chief Troy Finner signed the renewal of the MOU in a virtual ceremony held on July 29, 2021.
“Survival Mandarin is the first course of its kind in the United States. This program is about equipping officers with language skills that help them better connect to the community, and we can all look forward to more years of Survival Mandarin” said Director General Dr. Yen-Yi Lee.
An MOU setting up the program was signed in 2018, under which the Ministry of Education provides funding to the University of St. Thomas to provide Survival Mandarin courses to Houston police officers. The course curriculum is approved by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, and each participant receives professional training credits. The very first twenty-week training program began in March 2018 with 25 officers participating, and despite the sometimes unpredictable nature of police officers’ work schedules, sixteen officers successfully completed it.
More than 30 officers completed Survival Mandarin courses in 2018 and 2019, and in October 2019, four officers, including Kristine Anthony-Miller, former commander of the Houston Police Department Training Division, were invited to Taiwan for a language and culture immersion experience. During their visit, the Houston police officers also met with police officers and leaders in Taiwan. In 2020, the training program had to be suspended because of COVID-19 restrictions, but it resumed on August 4 this year and 28 Houston police officers are currently registered.
|Robert Fu-wen Lo, Chief Troy Finner, and Dr. Yen-Yi Lee