— Maria Mao (毛瑞 Máo Ruì)
”大家好, thank you for joining us for our anniversary party, being in our downtown Shanghai, or reading this article on our website. GoEast is 9 years old this year. I’m wondering how many years you’ve known GoEast, or how long you’ve learned with us. We see many familiar and new faces, every day at our school.
I’m so happy we can all be together in the physical space again, even though many friends, students, and even some staff members are still stuck abroad.
Last year we celebrated our anniversary online, and everyone we know has been affected by covid in some ways, from minor inconvenience to losing dear family members. It has not been an easy year in many many ways. But for GoEast itself, our school is healthy and has actually grown a lot.
9 years ago we started GoEast in Shanghai’s Yangpu district, with the government fund for young entrepreneurs. We had a very simple goal: to explore new possible ways of teaching Chinese with more fun and efficiency, both for our students and teachers. This concept is still part of GoEast today, as our mission is ‘To connect the world to China, and China to the world, through language’. This innovative spirit helped us to decide to start online classes in 2016, keeps our fantastic team growing, and gives us the confidence to handle crises, such as COVID.
So that brings us here, now, today.
And then what about the near future?
The theme of our 9th Anniversary Party is “Ready for the future”. Because many birthdays are about getting old and looking back, but we think we’re still very young and full of energy, and we’re very excited about that future.
For the near future, besides developing more courses for adult students, we are also adding children & youth Chinese courses. Why? We already see the future today. We have so many GoEast students who now have babies and children. We want to use our Chinese teaching experience for children as well. So you should feel the pressure from the future now.
And then what does the far future hold?
We have seen an artificial intelligence speaker which can teach you Chinese. We have some students trying to ask 小爱同学 (a smart speaker in our campus) about the weather using voice commands in Chinese. We also have browser plugins that translate the website you are using. There are apps like Duolingo, graded readers, and subtitled documentaries.
We are excited to see what the future will bring us and at the same time, we cherish old Chinese traditions, the very basic yet essential relationship between teachers and students. We still use whiteboards in classrooms, as well as digital screens. And even though we are amazed and enjoy the convenience from modern buildings, we still love the small alley with local people’s laundry and old things from this 100-year old shikumen building in which our downtown campus is housed.
I hope you enjoyed the party today, or if you were not with us in Shanghai, in some other way online. In any case, thank you all again for what you have contributed to bringing GoEast to where we are today.”