BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor-based Chinese Learning and Culture Center of Maine is extending its reach into southern Maine.
A little more than two weeks after a delegation of Chinese principals traveled to Bangor and surrounding towns as part of an expansion of the seven-year-old educational and cultural exchange program between Maine and China’s Heilongjiang Province, the center announced Monday it is adding four new school locations in Portland, South Portland, Brunswick and Saco.
“We are excited to expand our program into southern Maine,” said Jing Zhang, the center’s executive director. “This is something we have been working on for several months.”
Zhang said another school is planned for the Augusta area and could open within two months.
“We’re going to cover the whole of Maine everywhere within the next two years,” Zhang said. “I think we could eventually have schools in other areas — maybe northern Maine in Presque Isle or Caribou.”
The first of the new school centers to open, the Portland Chinese School, is located at 220 Maine Mall Road in South Portland. That school opened its doors ahead of schedule on Feb. 25. On April 5, the other three will begin an abbreviated semester schedule that will continue into June.
The new schools will incorporate high-quality, immersion-intensive instruction in Chinese language and culture for all ages with flexible class and school year schedules in addition to summer learning and exchange programs.
Currently, students at the Bangor Chinese School range in age from 18 months to 75 years old, according to Zhang. Each new school will have its own full-time main instructor with several assistants. Class fees range from $12 to $45 an hour.
The Chinese center in Bangor, which has been designated a Confucius Classroom by the government of China, already has a working partnership with Husson University and its satellite campus in South Portland.
“Bangor is so far away, this makes it much easier for us to have multiple programs than it is to travel back and forth for two-hour classes,” said Zhang.