Name: Chaya Cassell
Location of Study: Beijing, China
Program of Study: Beijing Language Summer Program
Sponsors: Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures, Liu Endowment
A brief personal bio:
I am a rising sophomore born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. I am currently majoring in Chinese and Political Science here at the university, but my education in both these fields began long before even high school. My parents home-schooled me all the way from preschool to eighth grade and I spent many of these years learning Chinese off and on from a variety of teachers, including my mother. In high school, I developed a deeper interest in studying Chinese and decided to make it my focus in college. In my free time, I enjoy reading, swimming, and exploring hiking trails with friends. As this is my first visit to mainland China, I am very much looking forward to this experience and am extremely grateful for the opportunity.
Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:
I began taking Chinese learning more seriously once I realized that a complete grasp of the Chinese language and culture was necessary for full engagement with China. China’s global influence is growing and I would like to be in a position to build on my understanding of China. The SLA grant is important to me because it provides a wonderful opportunity to accelerate my Chinese studies through the full-immersion experience. This summer session will bring me closer to fluency more quickly. Additionally, as a political science major, it will be helpful to get an inside perspective on its current society, history, and government for the purposes of analysis and further studies of East Asia.
What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:
My primary hope is to achieve a greater level of ease with speaking and reading Chinese. I am sure that the rigorous curriculum will help me get there. My secondary aim is to observe and learn about the culture and environment of Beijing through our cultural excursions and visits to Chinese companies. Through these experiences, I hope to come to a better understanding of the local Chinese perspectives on work, civil society, and global events. This may be ambitious for a first-year student, but my hope is to at least begin exploring the traditional and modern Chinese attitudes, as well as their influence on the systems in place.
Finally, I hope to form and establish connections in China in the further hope that I can revisit these in the near future. I am considering devoting a greater portion of my undergraduate (and perhaps graduate) studies to China, and having connections there will allow for more rich and efficient dialogue.
My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:
1. Acquire greater Chinese speaking proficiency by fully engaging in conversations in the language curriculum and outside of it in all daily activities.
2. Familiarize myself with Chinese culture and society (at least within the Beijing region) through careful observation and questions.
3. Be able to read and write more extensively in Chinese by reaching at least the second-year level.
My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience: