CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — Twelve-year-old Isabelle Szczerbinski is a bit of a Minecraft master.
In the game Minecraft, you use your skill to build better worlds.
“I think Minecraft is important because it’s a strategy game,” Isabelle said. “You can do whatever you like. You can get as many blocks as you want. You can build anything.”
She can also tell you why she likes the game in French, Polish, and Mandarin Chinese (her favorite).
Isabelle is a profoundly-gifted 12-year old homeschooler from Midlothian, Virginia who has won multiple national awards for her language skills.
Isabelle has lobbied Congress for funding public school language education with LanguagePolicy.org, meeting with the staffs of U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner.
A US-China Strong Student Ambassador, Isabelle recently did a presentation (entirely in Mandarin) to a 6th grade class in Chengdu, China on daily life for children in the U.S. and China.
In December, Isabelle received the national People-to-People award at the Confucius Institute Gala in Washington D.C. and delivered the acceptance speech on behalf of all the honorees.
“Only 18 percent of American kids learn a second language,” she told the audience. “In China and Europe, almost all kids are exposed to second languages. We need to do better.”
Isabelle said she hoped to one day be a diplomat or translator.
“Once you understand someone; you understand their culture, you understand their background, where they’re from; you just get along better,” Isabelle said. “I think that if everyone could do that, we’d have a more peaceful world.”
Isabelle also appears in the newly released film, Permanent, with Rainn Wilson and Patricia Arquette.
She also appeared on Lifetime’s Child Genius (Season 1) with NASA astronaut and University of Richmond graduate Leland Melvin.
In February, Isabelle will join renowned chef Peter Chang at his restaurant in Williamsburg in a class teaching people how to make dumplings. She’s become friends with the famed chef and his wife.
She met them through her affiliation with the Confucius Institute U.S. Center.
You can read more about Isabelle and her adventures on her blog: https://baolings.blog/