Rebecca Chen

International Experience Country:
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

University of Pittsburgh | Oakland

Heinz Programming Area:
Rebecca is a Philly native, raised in a Teochew-Cambodian-Vietnamese household. She is currently a junior majoring in Marketing while pursuing a minor in Chinese and a certificate in International Business. Her passion for advocacy and social justice was fostered in high school through her work with the Philly-based organization, Asian Americans United (AAU). It was rejuvenated in university through her time as a Programming Member for the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) 2020 Pittsburgh Conference. Outside of advocacy, she enjoys learning new languages, painting, dancing, and baking. Growing up in a household with a complicated immigration story, her experience and culture do not fall perfectly into strictly Chinese or Vietnamese or Cambodian. She found it hard to fully connect with either side of her cultural identity. She hopes that through her study abroad experience, she’ll be able to work on connecting with all sides of her identity, beginning with China. In the future, she looks forward to also exploring her Vietnamese and Cambodian sides.
International Experience Summary:

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.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Cross-Cultural Cooking Class  

The University of Pittsburgh Oakland Viras (Rebecca Chen, Lindsay Colgan, Kate Honan, Summer Viscusi, and Caroline Weiss) hosted a virtual “Cross-Cultural Cooking Class” following their study abroad experiences. The team had a diverse range of countries and experiences to pull from, including China, Iceland, Germany, New Zealand, South Africa, and Spain. The team’s vision was to encourage participants, in an increasingly hostile world, to look for similarities between different communities and seek to understand the differences. The team opted to use food as a lens to view these similarities and differences as food is something every culture has in common. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the cooking class was held via Zoom. This opened doors to access an online community in addition to the team’s local community. In preparation, the team compiled recipes that were incorporated into our study abroad experience. The cookbook includes both a savory dish and a sweet dish. In addition to the recipe, the book also includes a small tidbit on the cultural significance of the dish. Two recipes were chosen to be demonstrated during the live Zoom call while the team presented their study abroad experience. In between presentations and cooking, the team conversed with the participants. Topics range from their individual experiences to our international experience. Participants left the CEE with their bellies full and a new framework of how to analyze the world around them.