PHARR – Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD recognized 23 students for earning an HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi) or the Chinese Proficiency Test Chinese Proficiency Level II Certification during the 3rd Annual Lunar Year Festival: Celebrating the Year of the Rat held at the Pharr Events Center last month.

According to the Chinese Education Center, the HSK is an international standardized exam that tests and rates Chinese language proficiency. The HSK (Level II) is intended for students who have studied Chinese for two semesters (an academic year), with 2-3 class hours each week. These students have mastered 300 commonly used words and related grammar patterns.

"We are so proud of these students for their hard work and dedication," said PSJA Superintendent Dr. Jorge L. Arredondo. "Mastering three languages is not an easy task, and we commend them for taking advantage of the opportunities we have to offer here at PSJA ISD."

For Frida Davila, a senior at PSJA Southwest ECHS, earning the HSK Level II Certification is a jumpstart for her future career as an interpreter.

"I can read, speak, and write in Chinese," said Davila who will be graduating with an Associate Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from South Texas College in May. "Starting to learn a third language at this age instead of in college is great."

In addition to recognizing students, Texas State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. issued a proclamation commending PSJA ISD, City of Pharr and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley for their joint efforts in celebrating diversity in their communities.

Showcasing the wording on the proclamation, City of Pharr Mayor Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez read, "We commend them all for bringing international cultures to the PSJA community."

The 3rd Annual Lunar Year Festival 2020 was possible thanks to a partnership with PSJA Southwest ECHS, the City of Pharr and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Last year, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley received a grant from the US Department of Education to promote global awareness throughout Hidalgo County and to conduct community outreach at PSJA ISD, especially to students and staff in the district's renowned Dual Language Enrichment Program.

"We are excited to celebrate languages and cultures," said PSJA Southwest ECHS Dean of Instruction Jennifer Burden who led the efforts for the festival. "PSJA ISD students can learn Mandarin Chinese and even Arabic. Thank you to the thousands of families who joined us!"

In addition to recognizing students, the free community celebration included multicultural food, traditional dragon dances, cultural cuisine, authentic music, and special performances by PSJA students currently participating in the district's Mandarin Chinese program.