Rebecca Chen spent eight weeks this summer virtually cultivating her Chinese abilities through CET China: Virtual Intensive Language and Culture. Despite the distance, during her time with CET, she engaged with teachers from Shanghai and Beijing, native Chinese students, and fellow language learners. In class, she learned about the history of the Hukou system, a household registration system, its impact on current society (left-behind children), and recent reforms. In addition, she learned about siheyuan, a traditional Chinese-style courtyard house, and how its preservation is part of a larger conflict of retaining traditions while also modernizing. Lectures organized by CET also provided a glimpse into China’s science-fiction scene, Sino-US relations, and the Communist Party of China. Taking advantage of one-on-one classes with professors, as well as the Language Partner program, Rebecca asked questions about contemporary China. She learned about the tangping movement, a form of social protest movement where millennials and Gen-Z reject societal pressures to (over)work and instead “lie-flat” and prioritize mental health.
Beyond new cultural knowledge, she also improved her Chinese in all aspects of speaking, reading, writing, and listening. During the latter half of the program, she was selected to present her paper on how China and the United States can cooperate in order to lead global economy recovery post-COVID at the China-US Students Leaders Dialogue on Finance hosted by CET and Renmin University. Without realizing that there would be rankings, she placed in Silver! From this opportunity, Rebecca not only gained confidence in her Chinese ability, but also gained new friends, new perspectives, and a newfound pride in her identity.