By Tim Harfmann
Singing in the Chinese language of Mandarin is second nature for Lee Berat. For Lee, her knowledge goes beyond just singing: she’s an all-around winner when it comes to speaking Mandarin.
Her family is of Albanian and Italian descent, but she’s been learning to speak the language since the age of four.
“We used to have a Chinese nanny and she only spoke Chinese, so that’s how we communicated with her,” Lee explained.
Now she’s communicating in Chinese on a global scale.
Lee recently traveled to the Asian country for an international competition, and beat nearly 200 Mandarin-speaking students worldwide.
“You see that all other people from other different places, they also speak Chinese. And you can kind of relate to them in a way,” she said.
The junior at Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn wants to relate to others by becoming a doctor.
As part of the competition, she recited a speech in Mandarin about her future.
“I would like to use Chinese in my profession, so I can help out people in China that don’t know how to speak English and aren’t able to have this, sort of, care from doctors,” Lee said.
Lee is one of nine sisters, and they’re all fluent in the language.
“I’m really happy for my sister, in that we get to share this special bond and learn Chinese together,” said Langley, Lee’s younger sister.
Xaverian’s principal, Deacon Kevin McCormack, says although the Brooklyn school is full of diversity, Lee is unique.
“No one’s surprised to hear that someone can speak French, or Italian, or Spanish or Greek in Xaverian. But Mandarin? A little different,” he explained.
It’s all to learn and respect another language.