Yuan Bombocino and the first year Chinese class


Photos by Ky Campbell

Yuan Bombocino’s Chinese classroom at Athens Drive. Across the room, there are maps, posters, and vocabulary words.

This year at Athens Drive High School, the Foreign Languages department has a newcomer, Chinese. Yuan Bombocino, a native of China, started teaching Chinese 1 and 2 this year. It is an addition to the already-present lineup of Spanish and French in the school’s Foreign Languages options, replacing American Sign Language. 


Bombocino first worked in China as a Chinese teacher, at the best high school in her hometown. Afterwards, she and her husband moved to Durham and she worked as an ESL teacher for Hillside High School. When she moved to Raleigh, Athens was looking for a Chinese teacher, and they worked together to create the program. 


“It’s.. better than if I just used Duolingo… Now I can look at the characters and actually know what they sound like, and I can also piece together a sentence if I think about it,” said Ky Campbell, junior at Athens Drive who has taken two semesters of Chinese.


The class is well-appreciated by students taking it this year. They learn not only about the words, but also about the culture, festivals, and even some pop culture. Bombocino has taught them about the language, but also lucky and unlucky numbers, and during the Chinese Lantern festival, the class made paper lanterns to celebrate. 


“We also mentioned culture because you know, we [can’t] talk about languages and… avoid culture, right?” said Bombocino. 


“She teaches us little tips and tricks to remember all the characters, and also… different words that might sound the same in English,” said Campbell. 


If enough demand is created, the school plans on creating more levels of the class. Certainly, as reported by Bombocino, plenty of people have expressed interest in continuing the class. It’s been seen as refreshing to students to learn a language outside of normal French or Spanish. 


“But here, I told my students this too, because they were like, oh, we love this class. I love you guys, too, because I feel we are communicating very well,” said Bombocino. 


The class is popular enough to continue on to next year. Bombocino hopes to see a 3rd and even 4th level added. Though upset about ASL removal, many students are enthused with the addition of this class.