After 2-year fight, City College of San Francisco to launch new Cantonese programs

  • After a two-year fight to keep its Cantonese program, the City College of San Francisco is now set to launch two certificate programs in the 2023-24 school year.
  • Although it has consistently enrolled over 100% since opening in 2019, the college’s Cantonese program was nearly canceled in Fall 2021 due to budget cuts.
  • Earlier this year, City College Trustee Alan Wong spearheaded a proposal to save the program, receiving the support of more than 40 organizations.
  • The new certificate programs include a nine-unit Conversational Cantonese Certificate of Achievement and a 17-unit Chinese (Cantonese) Certificate of Achievement.
  • Cantonese, alongside Mandarin, is the second most common non-English language spoken in San Francisco, according to census data.

The City College of San Francisco (CCSF) will launch two new Cantonese certificate programs in the 2023-24 school year, according to a news release.

The certificates come after a long fight to keep the language program, which was nearly canceled in Fall 2021 due to budget cuts. More than 40 organizations backed Trustee Alan Wong’s proposal to save it.

“After a long fight, our movement to save the Cantonese program at City College has succeeded. I am ecstatic that City College of San Francisco will finally provide equity to the Cantonese speaking community,” Wong said in a statement.

CCSF is one of 18 higher education institutions in the U.S. that teach Cantonese. Since it began offering the program in 2019, enrollment has been above 100 percent, as per administrative data.

Wong was partly motivated to lead the effort after an encounter with a Chinese grandmother who had fallen victim to an anti-Asian incident. Due to a language barrier, she was unable to communicate with either the police or hospital staff.

“She had a big purple bump on her eye,” Wong said in January. “She told me that while taking the 15 bus line earlier in the day she was punched in the eye for no reason and then shoved out the bus door. Perpetrators prey on victims facing language barriers and those not likely to be able to get the help they need!”

However, census data also shows San Francisco’s need for Cantonese. In 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau listed it as a required language to participate in activities in the city, being the second most common non-English language spoken by the population alongside Mandarin.

CCSF’s certificate programs include a nine-unit Conversational Cantonese Certificate of Achievement and a 17-unit Chinese (Cantonese) Certificate of Achievement. The latter also comes with classes on Asian American Studies.

“Beginning in Fall 2023, the brand-new Cantonese certificate programs will be listed in the academic catalog and available for students. If you want to learn Cantonese to serve your community or talk to family members, come to City College,” Wong said.

The organizations that supported the effort include the Chinese Hospital, North East Medical Services, Richmond Area Multi-Services, Self Help for the Elderly, Community Youth Center, Cameron House, SF Youth Commission, SF Domestic Violence Consortium, Gum Moon Asian Women’s Resource Center,  Charity Cultural Services Center, APA Family Support Services, Chinatown Community Children’s Center, Chinese Newcomers Service Center, Asian Firefighters Association, API Legal Outreach, Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, Chinese Culture Center, Chinese Progressive Association, Chinese for Affirmative Action, OCA – SF Asian Pacific American Advocates, Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Chinese American Citizens Alliance, SF CAUSE, Chinese Historical Society of America, Revive Chinatown SF, Chinatown Rotary Club, Tenderloin Chinese Rights Association, Hong Kong Club of Northern California, Hong Kong Association of Northern California, Asian Pacific American Heritage Foundation, Stand with Asian Americans, Stand with Asians, Lee Family Benevolent Association, BeChinatown, Northeast Community Federal Credit Union, Delta Chinatown Initiative, Chinese American Voter Education Committee, America Guangzhou Alumni Association, SF Hep B Free, Chinese American Democratic Club, Rose Pak Democratic Club, Ed Lee Democratic Club and SF Berniecrats.

 

Featured Image via @alankennywong

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