An Interview with Mary Zheng

This month’s blog is featuring Reading Bear ambassador Mary Zheng.  Dr. Joanne Roussy and Dr. Isabel Chen have nominated Mary for the YWCA, Young Woman of Distinction Award 2018 in honour of  her enthusiasm for the Reading Bear Society and her dedication to the community the society serves.  Thank-you Mary !

RB: Tell us about yourself.

MZ: After receiving my undergraduate degree in Biology last year, I am currently completing my UBC Bachelor of Education in Elementary, specializing in Kindergarten and primary grades. I am passionate about local community building and aim to focus on community-engaged learning in my teaching practice. My vision as a teacher is to inspire students to be actively engaged members of their community.

RB: How did you become involved in the Reading Bear Society?

MZ: I got involved with the Reading Bear Society at the start of the fourth year of my undergraduate degree in Biology, when I was looking for programs that combined my love of elementary education with community building.

RB: What is your current role with the RBS?

MZ: As a Reading Bear Ambassador, I visit various Kindergarten and StrongStart classrooms across Vancouver to facilitate orientations and book deliveries for RBS. Part of my role is to train new volunteers for classroom visits as well. This past summer, I completed a summer internship with RBS and worked on the StrongStart orientation.

RB: What is your best memory of the RBS?

MZ: My favourite memory of the RBS was during my first Kindergarten classroom visit. There were two classes of students sitting on the carpet, bubbling with excitement for their special visitors. As we walked in with our bear suits and bear clothing, the students started to enthusiastically point out what they saw and shouted hellos and good mornings. The excitement carried on throughout the two book readings and sharing of bear facts, but the most enthusiastic response came when Denise the big teddy bear “knocked” on the door and came in. Every time the 3ft-tall teddy bear would “whisper” to me, the students listened so eagerly and believed every bit in the magic that she brought. Not only was this a memorable experience for the Kindergarten students, it was for myself as well. The Reading Bear Society shows children and parents that reading is fun and exciting, promoting a love for early literacy.

RB:  Why do you support the RBS?

MZ: As a future elementary educator, I believe that organizations such as the Reading Bear Society provide an invaluable, holistic learning opportunity for young children. The Reading Bear Society provides intergenerational mentorship and cross-community learning through the big buddy program, fostering loving and compassionate students. As a lover of books, I know how powerful reading can be, and RBS helps to develop and foster that love of reading to many children by providing books and other literacy resources to participating families. I believe all learning starts from a healthy mind, which makes the RBS motto, “Educating the heart-mind”, powerful and admirable. The Reading Bear Society continues to connect communities and build stronger connections across the city, and I am grateful to be a part of this program.