All seven current DEALL China Flagship Program students received full scholarships from the Chinese Scholarship Council to study in China, in their respective areas of interest.
Erin Elsbernd will study marketing at Renmin University of China; Emma Karp will study health care at Sun Yat-Sen University; Cassandra Olson will study international relations at Peking University; Michael Porter will study law at Renmin University of China; Bradley Roberts will study Chinese current art at the Central Academy of Fine Art; Joseph Sarver will study corporate management at Jilin University; and Sterling Weiser will study social medical care and health management at Xiamen University.
The Scholarships they received cover tuition, lodging, medical care, learning materials, and living allowance for the 2013-14 academic year. The students are now in China at Ohio State's Qingdao Center finishing preparation for their year in China.
Ohio State’s Advanced Chinese language and Culture (Flagship) Program is a two-year MA program for the advanced study of Chinese that prepares Americans to successfully work in China-related careers. It has an exceptional track record of producing students who can do so.
“These young people demonstrate that American university students can develop high-level abilities to communicate with Chinese people in their language and culture,” DEALL Professor and Program Director Galal Walker said. “To some degree this balances out the large numbers of Chinese in American graduate programs. The educational takeaway for me is that high goals and a reasonable pathway toward achieving those goals will result in bright people accomplishing beyond their own expectations.”
Below, three of the Flagship students share their experiences to-date:
Sterling Weiser—When I think of the Flagship, it brings to mind a phrase from the Dao, ‘悠兮其贵言，成功事逐，百姓皆谓我自然。’ The gist of the phrase is that when something's done right, the people will think that they did it, and that's the program; it's a silent hand guiding you to success, providing the means and leaving the ends to you. The course work is rigorous, the expectations are high, and the rewards are tangible improvements in not just Chinese ability, but also in every aspect of your life. I've discovered the confidence needed to express myself, (in two different languages,) and now feel like the world truly is my oyster all through the pedagogical scope of this program. I was feeling doubtful that my Chinese abilities had improved enough to get into a Chinese university, but the training and teaching resulted in a full-ride to Xiamen University. Improvements happen without even realizing it; it feels so natural. The program is unlike any I've ever been in, and excels at what it does. I've been studying Chinese in and out of class for about 6 years now. After my bachelor's study at another university in Ohio, I traveled to China to teach English and get married (!), and in doing so, I learned that there are many opportunities for entrepreneurship in a developing nation if only you know how to find them. One of the first steps towards that is having a strong understanding of the Chinese language, and perhaps even more importantly, of the Chinese culture. Thus, the OSU Chinese Flagship program seemed like a great chance to acquire knowledge of both.
Michael Porter—Although my original goals going into the program were relatively modest, with the way the program is set up, it is difficult to avoid delving deeper into one's own domain topic. My current domain is in law, and I will do my dissertation on the differences of fault principles in the tort law of China and America. My undergrad studies are actually not in law, but since the program is based largely on individual tutoring by teachers specializing in the domain area of the student, I have been able to acquire it least a workable understanding of basic law concepts in a relatively short amount of time. So for my personal situation, this has been largely advantageous. Also noteworthy is that in China, there are many kinds of information that do not flow freely; the student of Chinese who is also a native English speaker is in a good position to assimilate information from China as well as from abroad. For certain areas of expertise, this can also be an advantage. For these (and other) reasons, I feel confident I will be able to make a valuable contribution to any future employers. My own experience of the program has been very positive. I think the program directors have truly captured what the real point of studying high level Chinese is; in the end, the actual language is just one part of the whole experience. There are so many things that they have considered other than the language itself, like social customs, building relationships, understanding the meaning behind the words, our individual domains, our professional presenting abilities etc., and the Flagship program is better for that. Although there are a few things I would change if able to, I think the Flagship program is a good model for what high level language instruction should be.
Erin Elsbernd—This fall my fellow Chinese Graduate Flagship classmates and I will be enrolling in graduate courses at various universities throughout China. It is both an exciting and daunting period, and makes me look back at the past year and realize how far we have grown and advanced under the instruction of OSU Flagship’s professors and mentors. Though the Flagship Program can be quite challenging at times, it has taught me, in the words of Professor Walker, to 'fail at a higher level.' Everyday, whether it is in regard to my tones, grammar, or the way I present my research, I make mistakes; yet, in reviewing these mistakes I see the progression of my language and research abilities. This has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the program and has given me the confidence to pursue graduate research in China this coming year. In addition, continuing study of Chinese under the Flagship program has enabled me to read Chinese academic journal articles, conduct marketing surveys, and continue to write my thesis research in Chinese. Additionally, through our upcoming internships in Beijing, I will become familiar with the cultural norms and expectations associated with professional working environments in China. Through participating in the Chinese Graduate Flagship program, these experiences will provide me with the necessary training and language skills to not only complete my thesis coursework and take graduate level courses in Chinese, but more importantly to achieve my future career goals and thrive in a professional setting in China.
“Our continuing success on placing our advanced Chinese language and culture students into the graduate programs of major Chinese universities comes from having a well-designed program and the right persons involved, “Walker said. “In addition, having an Ohio State presence in China such as the Gateway in Shanghai and the training facility in Qingdao, gives us resources that most other universities do not have.”