29 March 2018
Take a look at what just a few of our Student Ambassadors have been up to this month:
Mae Jiang, 14
Mae is a student at the Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in Chicago, and joined the Student Ambassador program as a nominee of the Chicago Public School District Confucius Institute. While Mae has grown up speaking the language, she has been taking formal Chinese classes for three years and has achieved intermediate to advanced proficiency. Mae notes that her motivation for studying Chinese stems from wanting to better communicate with her family, and to learn more about her cultural heritage.
This past summer, Mae studied abroad for a month in China, primarily at the Hangzhou Wanxiang Polytechnic Institute but also in Beijing and Shanghai, as part of the Chicago Public Schools Chinese Summer Language, Culture, and Technology Initiative (CSLCTI). Described as an “amazing, life-changing experience” by Mae, studying abroad in China furthered her understanding of the intrinsic value of cultural exchange and immersion, and even shaped her career interests.
A self-identifying “global citizen,” Mae hopes to pursue studies in international relations.
“Through studying abroad, I now aspire to engage in a career that allows me to frequently travel and use both Mandarin and English.”
Brian Bumpas, 27
Brian Bumpas is an M.A. candidate studying Asian Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. For his Student Ambassador project this quarter, Brian wrote an essay in which he argues that studying a foreign language is an inextricable part of a meaningful education. Brian reluctantly began his journey with Chinese in order to fulfill the foreign language requirement at his college. His apathy quickly transformed into enthusiasm as he discovered the rewarding challenge of learning Chinese.
Brian’s more than seven years of studying Chinese has completely transformed his outlook on the world and reshaped the trajectory of his career goals. His first experience abroad was in Taipei for two months, followed by two Fulbright grants in Taiwan as an English Teaching Assistant over a three-year period. Most recently, Brian was awarded a Boren Fellowship to study at Tsinghua University in Beijing for one year.
Brian’s Chinese language ability is currently at an advanced proficiency level. Despite all his time studying Chinese, Brian says he is still learning. Because of his time abroad, Brian decided to pursue a career at the intersection of American and Chinese cultures. His long-term career goal is to build understanding between the US and China.
“Who needs a foreign language? Everyone. By studying a foreign language, we fulfill that ultimate promise of an “education,” to break out of the mold and challenge personal boundaries.
Jeanne Malle, 16
Jeanne Malle is a high school student at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut. Though born in France, Jeanne has lived in New York City for twelve years. She was nominated by the Yale-China Association to be a US-China Strong Student Ambassador, and has five years of Chinese learning under her belt. For her Student Ambassador project this quarter, Jeanne held a dumpling-making event to display a tastier side of Chinese culture.
Already fluent in French and English, Jeanne began studying Chinese to challenge herself to better understand China and its global influence. Jeanne studied abroad in Beijing during a ten-week program. Her direct exposure to a culture so different from her own was a life changing experience. Interacting with her homestay family also had a large impact on Jeanne. Once certain she would eventually live in either New York City or Europe, now Jeanne also hopes to some day live in China.
Jeanne’s academic interests include Chinese, history, the visual arts, and literature. As a creative, she wants a career in which she can pursue her passion for the arts while working alongside people of different cultures on a daily basis.
“China, its language, and culture all heavily influence our world, and I believe that by striving to understand them, I will have a better understanding of the world.”