Published by The Montclarion (themontclarion.org)
by Georgia I. Salvaryn
As students file in to a classroom in the new and polished nursing building, Dr. Wing Shan Ho opens her lesson of the day on her laptop and readies the projector screen at the front of the room. She is energetic and ready to lecture despite her early morning Monday classes. As the last student enters the classroom, she begins her class with a warm greeting in Chinese that translates to, “Hello everyone.”
The bright and delightful Chinese professor paces across the front of the room, explaining the agenda of the day’s class. After her brief overview, she prepares the class for their first Chinese dictation, a quiz that tests students on their recently-learned vocabulary and helps students practice their character writing and listening comprehension.
Ho, a Chinese native, was born in the city of Guangzhou in the Guangdong province, also known as the Canton province. She now resides in Bloomfield, New Jersey. Although she is currently on a work visa, she is working toward becoming a permanent American citizen.
As an assistant professor of Chinese and the program coordinator of the Chinese program, Ho juggles numerous classes and takes on huge tasks to advance and enhance Montclair State University’s Chinese program.
“One of the most important things [in the Chinese program] is the students,” Ho said. “Students contribute to the program, and they give input into the program. I do believe the students who take the Chinese classes want to be able to speak Chinese well and write and read too. We try to do that with the aim of enhancing their proficiency. We try to do everything and anything that we can do to help them learn Chinese better.”
Students who take Chinese as a language praise the program.
“I’m pursuing Chinese to gain a competitive advantage for the future as China continues to rise as a global power,” said senior Katrina Fernandez, a business administration student with a concentration in international business and marketing. “The Chinese program allowed me to meet students with the same love of foreign language as me. It also gave me the opportunity to study in China, something that I wouldn’t have considered had I not been a part of the Chinese program.”
Chinese language students appreciate Ho’s efforts in creating a unique learning environment in and outside of the classroom.
“What I like most about the Chinese program is the workshops where students can learn Chinese calligraphy,” said junior accounting major Delia Wang Biondo. “It gives students that artistic experience of writing beautiful Chinese characters using a special brush or pen. She also incorporates Chinese popular culture into her teaching, making Chinese all the more exciting.”
Lois Oppenheim, a French professor and Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, has worked with Ho for the past five years and describes her as supportive, smart and thoughtful.
“She’s very tech-savvy and she uses technology a lot in class in very good ways.” Oppenheim said.
Outside of the classroom, Ho conducts research studying filmic representation of disabilities in China and Taiwan.
“I am studying and comparing a few contemporary Chinese and Taiwanese films that depict deafness and blindness in order to figure out how disability is constructed in media and what issues are at stake in these disability representations in a non-Western context,” Ho explained.
Ho recently published her first book, “Screening Post-1989 China: Critical Analysis of Chinese Film and Television”. In this publication, she analyzed Chinese film and Television censorship.
“It’s interesting because her area of research in scholarship is extremely important,” said Oppenheim. “Generally speaking, people in our department are working on the literature of a particular language, culture, etc. but Dr. Ho’s interest has been in popular culture. She is very interdisciplinary, so her focus is not on a single discipline, such as Chinese literature of a certain period.”
Admired by her coworkers and students, Ho leaves a positive impression on everyone she meets.
“We are very fortunate to have her,” Oppenheim said. “She’s a very delightful colleague. She is always eager to be helpful to everyone and anyone. She is just lovely to work with.”