A player tough in any language
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 15, 2006

Fei Jiang saw opportunity in badminton after mom brought her to U.S.

Charlie O'Brien

Four years ago, Fei Jiang came to the United States from China with very little knowledge of English.

Flash forward to today, and not only does Jiang speak perfect English, she is learning Japanese as well.

The Greenway High School senior has also picked up a pretty mean game of badminton, and she's the No. 1 player for the Demons. Jiang's journey began when she was in the eighth grade, a year after her mother came to the United States seeking a better life.

"My mom got here a year earlier than I did, and after she got into the U.S., I followed her," Jiang said. "I came here practically by myself. It was pretty scary."

Jiang spoke Mandarin in China and began learning English in seventh grade, but she said her English "wasn't that great" when she arrived.

"It was difficult in class," Jiang said. "Everybody was understanding and learning, but I was just sitting there, totally out of it. I couldn't understand anything the teacher was saying."

But by the end of eighth grade, Jiang said, she had picked up the language, and her freshman year at Greenway she found the sport that reminded her of home.

"When I was in China, I liked to play badminton with neighbors and friends for fun, but we didn't really know the rules," Jiang said. "But then I found out, wow, you can actually join the team? I thought it was an awesome opportunity for me."

Greenway coach Heather McDonald was immediately impressed by Jiang's ability to make the transition to living in the U.S.

"I've had her since she was a freshman, and I had no idea she didn't speak (English originally), that's how quickly she picked it up," McDonald said.
"To me, coming to the States and not speaking any English . . . it's pretty amazing."

Jiang has proved to be pretty impressive on the court as well.

"She's very dominant, very tough," McDonald said. "She could be very competitive for a state championship run in singles."

Now in her fourth year of Japanese classes, Jiang also serves as the student body treasurer and is a member of the Key Club and the National Honor Society.

"She's very respectful and helpful, and she's always doing good things for the school," McDonald said. "She is a team leader who is always willing to help out the younger kids. She's always positive."