Mandarin, mathematics, and endless crafting

Ms. Chiu finds time to explore all of her interests

Olivia Velasco, Staff Writer

Teaching Mandarin, Geometry, Calculus, and AP Calculus AB classes simultaneously keeps Jennifer Chiu busy. 

“It keeps me on my toes, I will say that and it definitely makes me not complacent,” Chiu said. 

Chiu grew up in Taiwan, where she said her familiarity with and love for Mandarin and math originally struck. Her passions further developed, as her family moved to the US later in her childhood and she chose to major in general mathematics in college. 

“We immigrated when I was eight, so the thing that was a universal language was math,” Chiu said.

Photo by Mira Kaiser.

Teaching Mandarin for her first time in person this year, Chiu gets to work the right side of her brain by incorporating numerous arts and crafts activities into the Mandarin curriculum. 

“I love incorporating art into it [the class],” Chiu said. “The art makes it just that much more fun.”

Chiu said she embraces both of the subjects she teaches, and especially the opportunities she gets to educate her students beyond the given curriculum. 

“I do feel ten times more competent when I’m doing the math that I’ve been doing for so long, but Mandarin is fun too because I always can throw in my own experience and my own cultural background,” Chiu said. 

Despite her hectic school schedule, Chiu never fails to make time for her numerous crafting hobbies, particularly her miniatures. This craft, which involves building tiny re-creations of different stores and scenes, takes immense focus and precision to complete. 

“Everything is two dimensional and just flat wood pieces and flowers that you need to cut up and glue,” Chiu said. “You need lots and lots of tacky glue and definitely tweezers.”


Completing over fifteen miniatures, Chiu takes pride in naming some of her favorite creations she has finished over the past two years. 

 “I have a bakery, a classic classroom from when I actually went to school back in the day, a Starbucks, a two story house, a dim sum place and a revolving sushi.”

These tiny lifelike buildings can take Chiu up to eleven or twelve hours to make or roughly two to three days. 

Courtesy of Chiu.


“I do it during breaks. Winter break or spring break if I really need it, but usually those times I do smaller things, to just kind of satisfy my need for the crafting” Chiu said. 

Chiu describes her crafting time as “very formulaic and therapeutic,” and a way for her to relax when she isn’t working or with her children. 

“This is my downtime, where I’m not mommy and I’m not teaching, I’m just me,” Chiu said.