Kaiser High’s new Chinese teacher, Pauli Tashima, who joined the Cougar family midway through our online school year, is a very culturally-aware person. From growing up in foreign countries to raising children of her own, Tashima has always found education and language to be important parts of her life.
Tashima was born and raised in Hong Kong, speaking Cantonese as her first language. At nine years old, she and her family moved to Taiwan where she faced a whole new language– Mandarin. Little did she know she’d be teaching the language one day. “I was taught Mandarin by a home tutor and also just absorbed it from watching TV and hearing people around me speak it,” Tashima said. She only lived in Taiwan for three years before she immigrated to Los Angeles, California where she received the rest of her formal education.
Tashima also had many experiences with Chinese culture. She visited the country multiple times saying, “Traditional Chinese history, architecture, literature, and the arts are all to be found [there].” She continued, “The profundity and richness of all these domains of knowledge/experience boggle the mind. ––The culture there is incredibly complex, dynamic, and steeped in history.”
Tashima attended the University of California, Berkeley for all of her post-secondary education where she earned her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in Chinese Literature. She has since taught at the University of California, Berkeley; Pennsylvania State University; University of North Carolina, Greensboro; University of Hawaii, Manoa; and Kap’iolani Community College. Working and learning in all those different environments had an impact on Tashima. “My biggest role models are the university professors I worked with, because of their ways of thinking–– they imparted to me,” Tashima said.
Outside of teaching, Tashima enjoys spending time with her young children, hiking, and going to the beach. Her family’s well-being is on her top list of priorities, followed by education and her children’s education. “These are the things that I expend the most time and effort on, since they are also what give me the most joy and meaning in life,” Tashima said.
Tashima continues to explore Chinese culture and language as she teaches her students here at Kaiser High. “It would take many lifetimes to learn just a fraction of this extremely sophisticated culture,” Tashima said. Despite that wearing thought, she says, “never stop learning the art and science of teaching. Your studies are your foundation to, not a distraction from, everything that is good in life.”