Three students from the Chinese Studies Program in Modern and Classical Languages, Tyler Hayward, Joshua Roorda and Daniel Scott, have been awarded the prestigious Chinese Government Scholarship (Full Scholarship) from the Chinese Ministry of Education via the Consulate General of PRC in Houston. This “Full Scholarship” covers all expenses from tuition to room and board as well as medical insurance, initial settlement allowance, and monthly living allowances for a full year in China. It is a highly competitive scholarship awarded to students who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievements in Chinese language studies in addition to their excellence in overall education. Furthermore, these three students have all been admitted to Peking University, the most prestigious university in China!
Tyler Hayward is a sophomore double majoring in Chinese Studies and Economics. He has been interested in the Chinese language since he was a child and chose to study Chinese when he entered UH. As he says, the only reason for learning Chinese is his strong interest in Chinese food, culture and the language. Tyler wants to be as fluent in Chinese as he can, although there are stoke orders in writing characters and tones in speaking which make learning Chinese challenging for him. In order to be fluent, he is not afraid of messing up and making mistakes. “Continuously practicing will help me understand the meaning and use the language functionally,” he said. He enjoys those “terrible” class activities like “fighting” with classmates over correcting each other’s tones and narrations. Outside of class, he goes to Chinatown and has conversations with people to practice his Chinese. He participated in the faculty-led Chinese study abroad program in summer 2016. Studying in China for five weeks motivated him tremendously, and he planned to study in China again. This full scholarship from the Ministry of Education of China has fulfilled his dream!
He said that this Chinese government scholarship is a testimony to his diligence and achievements. While studying the Chinese language in Peking University for one year, he also plans to deepen his understanding of Chinese culture and Chinese society. When coming back from China, Tyler wants to help Chinese people who are coming to United States but may not speak very good English. He will be able to use his Chinese and English to help the Chinese community here in the USA. Furthermore, he wants to show people through his experience that although Chinese people and Americans have different cultures, they are not that different, and he wants to level that cultural barrier to the best of his abilities. Tyler is active in promoting Chinese culture in his role as secretary of CALCO (The Chinese American Language and Culture Organization) at UH.
Joshua Roorda, a sophomore majoring in Chinese Studies, chose a language major because he has never enjoyed learning anything more than languages – and Chinese is one of the most challenging and useful languages among all. He is fascinated by Chinese culture and history, particularly modern history. Learning Chinese is challenging especially because of its characters and tones, yet he derives a great sense of accomplishment from the learning process. “Every time I listen to a Chinese dialogue and can understand it simultaneously without having to translate in my mind, I feel that I’m in a kind of a new world!” Joshua said. In class, he likes to participate in activities requiring students to create dialogues in daily situations with the given grammar structures. “Presenting our dialogues with newly learned grammar and vocabulary” is exciting, he mentioned.
Learning Chinese is a genuine pleasure for Joshua, and he endeavors to be a native-sounding fluent speaker of Chinese. Indeed, although he is only a second year Chinese language student, a native Chinese speaker would mistake him for a native speaker on the phone. Knowing that being immersed in the country is the best way to learn a language, he tried his best to improve his language skill and successfully applied for a scholarship to further his study in China. Joshua is an active member of CALCO, and is interested in serving in the U.S. State Department or a federal agency in which Chinese proficiency is a requirement.
Daniel Scott, a junior in Physics and Mathematics and minoring in Chinese Studies, started to learn Chinese in high school. When starting his research career at UH, he realized that many scientists in his research facility were English-speaking Chinese-born physicists. The reality, however, is that there are very few American physicists who can speak Chinese, so he was inspired to help bridge the gap and encourage international cooperation within scientific communities. “Chinese is an essential tool in the global scientific community,” Daniel commented. Having taken Chinese for 3 years, he said his interest has been steadily increasing each semester. Although sometimes he struggles to understand the nuanced meanings of a character or follow the rapidly spoken dialogue in Chinese movies, learning Chinese is enjoyable and very rewarding. He uses different apps on his phone to keep himself engaged in the language, learning words, grammar, and new expressions, and reading books whenever he can.
Daniel’s interest in learning Chinese quickly skyrocketed when he participated in the UH faculty-led Chinese study abroad program last summer. Immersed in the language, he felt more creative and confident in using the language. When he visited Peking University and Tsinghua University, the top universities in China, he hoped that he might return to attend one of these universities for his graduate work in the future. The Chinese government scholarship gives him the opportunity to accelerate his language competence and further his research in China in September 2017! He said that he may stay in Peking University for a longer period of time to do physics research in addition to his language improvement. He hopes to develop academic collaborations with Chinese and American scientific communities by being fluent in Chinese. In addition to Chinese language, physics, and math, Daniel is an amateur theatre actor; his performance on the stage, however, truly demonstrates professional training!
Another Chinese Studies major, William Nisbett, competed in the 16th “Chinese Language Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition for the southern United States on April 23rd, 2017. Sponsored by the Chinese government and its affiliated Confucius Institute, Chinese Language Bridge is a very important competition meant to showcase the talent and knowledge of college students in Chinese language and culture. The competition consists of three parts: a language, culture, and history multiple choice test, a prepared speech, and a talent), Out of the 15 finalists from across the southern United States who were selected by their respective institutes as representatives, William placed 2nd overall! The Chinese Ministry of Education via the Education Office of the Consulate General of PRC will sponsor his trip to China, including international fare and one month’s accommodation. William currently double majors in Chinese Studies and Physics and has recently been admitted to a Ph.D program at the University of Houston.
The Chinese Studies program in MCL at the College of Liberal Arts and Humanities is proud to have Tyler Hayward, Joshua Roorda and Daniel Scott representing the University of Houston at Peking University, and William Nisbett representing US Chinese language students at the International Chinese Language Bridge Tournament in China!