Katie Grossweiner ´12 poses next to the College´s mascot, the camel, while she explores China´s sites.
Thanks to a U.S. Department of State 2010 Critical Language Scholarship, East Asian studies major Katie Grossweiner ´12 is gaining fluency in Chinese by living, studying and interacting with native speakers in Nanjing, China, this summer. Grossweiner spends more than 20 hours a week studying at the Nanjing University, where she takes two Chinese courses to learn how to read "shumian," the written and formal version of Chinese, and colloquial Chinese. She also attends night lectures about Chinese culture and history as well as tai chi classes. "But the most exciting aspect of the program happens outside of the classroom," Grossweiner said. "I am living with a Chinese roommate, which means I am constantly immersed in the language." Grossweiner and her roommate, who also happens to be her Chinese tutor, live in a foreign student residence hall on the university´s campus. When she is not studying with her tutor or professor, Grossweiner is out and about practicing her Chinese and seeing the sites, including a bible factory, Mount Huangshan and China´s version of Williamsburg. The practice Grossweiner receives through the coursework, residential experience and excursions is equal to one academic year of language study, and though she is only a few weeks into the program, she already sees the benefits of the experience. "My ultimate goal is fluency, and this opportunity is helping me reach it," she said. "It is important that I do eventually, because I want to be a K-12 Chinese teacher." Grossweiner never anticipated this goal. As a freshman, she decided to enroll in an introductory Chinese course, because she had enjoyed the little exposure to the language that she´d had in high school. By the end of the semester, she knew she had found her passion and academic interest. In the process, she also found a mentor, Chinese Professor Amy Dooling. "Professor Dooling is always letting me know about various opportunities and ways to enrich my major," Grossweiner said. "Without her, it is unlikely that I would be participating in this very program."