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Mandarin Training Program for Houston Police Department Resumes

A field trip to bakeries, restaurants, and supermarkets in Houston’s Chinatown

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Texas hard in the past year, presenting challenges to all aspects of life, including public security and education. Pandemic restrictions led to the Survival Mandarin course for Houston’s police officers being suspended for a year and a half. But fortunately in July, the Ministry of Education in Taiwan signed an MOU with the Houston Police Department (HPD) to continue the Mandarin training program for a further three years. 

The Survival Mandarin program is designed to improve communication and community safety by providing HPD officers language and cultural training which will help them better connect with Houston’s ever-growing Mandarin-speaking population. The Survival Mandarin program resumed on August 4, 2021, with 28 HPD officers participating in the 13-week training program held at the HPD Southwest Substation. 

The instructor, Ms. Jade Rush, has continued refining the already successful program. It focuses on developing cultural awareness as well as Mandarin language skills and the officers engage in creative, interactive learning activities. In addition to teaching classes, Jade arranged a field trip for the HPD officers to visit bakeries, restaurants, and supermarkets in Houston’s Chinatown. This gave the officers the opportunity to learn about some of the businesses popular in Houston’s Taiwanese community and to practice their Mandarin with some of the local community. They had a lot of fun experiencing the local food culture and learned an important skill – how to place an order in Mandarin!

The last session of the 2021 Survival Mandarin course was held on October 27, 2021. Hurricane season meant that the participating HPD officers had to deal with irregular shift schedules and unpredictable workloads, but they all still managed to successfully complete the training program and were awarded certificates by the University of St. Thomas. Three officers even managed perfect attendance.

In the past three years, more than 30 officers have completed this Survival Mandarin training course. Three were awarded advanced training scholarships to complete one-week internships in Taiwan but their study trips had to be temporarily suspended because of the pandemic. The three officers are looking forward to visiting Taiwan and improving their Mandarin skills further in the near future.