My Life with Abacus and Mental Math

by Amanda Chin

I started to learn abacus when I was six years old. Back then, I was living in Singapore and I was very open to trying new things. I wanted to learn everything there was out there and abacus is one of the few things that I have stuck to for almost a decade. After only learning abacus for half a year, my family and I moved to California, and I had to stop taking abacus classes for two years. My parents could not find a teacher and I was having a difficult time adjusting to school here. However, after they finally found a teacher, I was so excited to start practicing again and I tried to remember everything that I learned in the past. After my first lesson with my new teacher, Mrs. Hsieh, I came home and practiced that night while the rest of my family was already asleep.

For the first several years, I was placed in the lower level classes with other children that were younger than I was. That only encouraged me to try harder and improve faster, because I wanted to be in a class with kids my own age. However, there were a couple times throughout the years that I wanted to quit, because practicing became like a chore. I ended up staying with abacus because I knew that I would miss it too much if I quit. So every year, I practiced hard and managed to pass the assessment tests.

I am currently in the most advanced class, and have been for the past five years. Also for the past three years, I have been a teacher's aid for my teacher's younger classes. Teaching abacus is quite different from just learning it. It has taught me to be very patient and to always encourage others. I enjoy helping out because I want these kids to grow up to be the best they possibly can.

Last summer, I participated in the World City Cup in Japan, and that was a blast. It was a different kind of assessment test and an unforgettable experience. I cannot say how glad I am that I chose to stay with abacus for so long. Not only does it help me with math in school; it helped me make many friends, learn how to persevere, and has opened the doors to great opportunities. My abacus experience has made me part of what I am today.

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