For as long as I can remember, the sensation of flying 40,000 feet across the vastness of the Pacific Ocean has been a familiar experience. I am someone who would seize any opportunity to travel around the world. My passion for experiencing other cultures stems from my illustrious background. I was born abroad in Taiwan, experienced culture shock in Illinois, was uprooted to China, settled in the Mountainous regions of Colorado, and am currently basking in the sunny beaches of California. I have been educated in both China and the United States, and as a result of embracing the two heterogeneous cultures, I have developed an interest in foreign languages.
As a young girl, I looked forward to evenings when my parents would read Chinese folklores to me - I was captivated by the adventures of the monkey king and his traveling band in the “Journey to the West”. Through this story, I learned the beauty of language and its ability to transmit cultural values across generations. My mother had to explain this story to me after reading them because it was too advanced, and my eagerness to read the text for myself intensified my curiosity. I went to Tzu Chi Chinese school every Sunday to learn Mandarin Chinese with classmates who were older than me, and I demonstrated my talent by receiving first and second place in Chinese speech contests. In China, I went to an international school where I learned Chinese every day with my classmates. Almost all of the students and faculty came from other Asian and European countries, and it was through their stories that I found European culture fascinating; it prompted me to take advanced European history and language courses later in high school.
My thirst for knowledge, however, extended beyond Chinese. At the beginning of high school, I studied multiple languages such as French. Initially, I had difficulty with intonation, and I embarrassed myself by saying “une crap” instead of “une crêpe” in front of Mr. Henry’s French class. Gradually, I improved after writing letters to Eleanor, a French friend I met in China. I also used my knowledge of the French language outside of the classroom; I directed a French student around campus using my limited vocabulary.
My favorite aspect of learning a new language is the intimate, interpersonal connections I develop with people of diverse cultures. This past summer, I was accepted into the highly-selective Assistance for Individuals with Disadvantages (AID) program to teach English language and culture to children in the rural areas of Pingtung, Taiwan. One of the most challenging aspects of the teaching course was the language barrier between the younger students and myself. Some of the students had limited background in English, and I had to find simpler ways to explain complex, technical terms. I succeeded in using actions to explain the definitions to the students. In addition, I used creative activities to heighten their engagement in the classroom and helped them regain their confidence. After I left the program, my students continue to show an eagerness to learn by asking me English grammar questions on social media. I want to continue helping others in a professional setting, and my knowledge of foreign languages will provide me with the foundations for my passion in foreign translation and diplomacy.