What our students have to say about Chinese and Japanese language study


Libby Maret '12

"Coming to Connecticut College, I had a dream of combining my interest in physics and my love for the Japanese language. And I thought this dream would only remain in its nascent stages, as a fantasy unable to grow into reality. But grow it did. In my sophomore year I was able to organize an independent study with Professor Harb to study technical Japanese language. Together we read texts explaining physics concepts and watched videos interviewing Japanese physicists and I gained a sense for how to communicate physics in Japanese. But my attempts to combine my two interests have yet to reach a climax. I may have graduated, but in the fall I will be traveling to Japan to spend a year studying ultrafast physics at Tsukuba University under a Fulbright Research Fellowship. Accepting the Fulbright actually came as a challenge because I was also accepted to study applied physics at the University of Michigan, but my professors, advisers and peers at Conn, particularly in the East Asian Studies department, helped me to accept both positions by deferring my acceptance to Michigan for a year. What the future holds for me in Japan and at Michigan I don't yet know, but I am looking forward to it with a great sense of adventure and excitement."

Lauren Burke '06

"Chinese is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world today yet it is one that very few Americans are able to speak. Sure, Chinese might be a harder language to learn than non-character ones like French or Spanish, but it only makes it that much more rewarding when you are able to speak Chinese at home, or abroad. Thousands of doors open up for you when you have studied it and, you will find, that so much of the world is connected to China and its people in ways you never even imagined! Just make sure you know what to say when people ask you to speak in Chinese, and you'll get it almost every day."

David Simpson '04

"Traveling to Japan as a high school student at Saint Johnsbury Academy (Vt.) and again in college through the Associated Kyoto Program, I am becoming much more able in my understanding of what Japan 'really is' through mastery of the language. An obsession of something Japanese certainly doesn't hurt to have in studying the language, and nobody at Conn loves Nintendo more than me! Kanji will drive even native Japanese nuts, 'rareru' and 'saseru' will remain a mystery, but once someone grasps Japanese or dreams in Japanese for the first time, it is the wildest experience. Studying Japanese and Japan is a superior mental challenge, for no other country has more critics arguing over it in terms of culture, language pedagogy and 'wareware nihonjin' - but who really wants to study something where everything is already figured out? Studying Japanese has helped to define me as myself, and it doesn't hurt that on the resume I send to Nintendo I'll have 'Japanese study: 8 years.'"

Jennifer Ryan '03

"Since embarking upon the study of Chinese language and culture more than two years ago, what I have learned and experienced both here at Connecticut College as well as abroad has profoundly influenced the direction of my life, both academically and in my future professional career. With the knowledge and skills I have gained in the past few years, my education has been and will prove to be of utmost value. I am now in an advantageous position to work either domestically or internationally, which vastly enhances the possibilities for my future."

Mike Alford '03

"While I was in China I not only began to truly understand Chinese culture for the first time, but I also truly began to understand my own culture for the first time. Again, the key to all of this was having the ability to speak Chinese. This was made painfully apparent on one of my last nights in China. While sitting in a restaurant, another expatriate was sitting at a table across from me expounding on all he knew about China and Chinese culture… yet most of the conclusions he drew were completely wrong. It was not that his arguments lacked logic or evidence, it was just simply because he did not speak the language and therefore had no way of really interacting and understanding the culture. I realized had I just been a normal government major without any ability to speak Chinese, I would have been that guy sitting across from me."