Coming from rural Pennsylvania, I could not have predicted that I would receive the opportunity to study Mandarin Chinese and that it would become such a defining element of my life. Not only has learning the language been an engaging academic pursuit, but it has informed my academic and career goals. My initial studies in Mandarin motivated me to pursue an Asian Studies certificate to contextualize the language with the broader political, economic, and social developments occurring in China and across Asia more broadly. It has encouraged me to understand the role of China in the world order and its emerging economic and political engagements across the developing world.
The latter point inspired my independent research on the role of China’s trade regime in establishing a system of economic dependence for African economies. Beyond this project I hope that my studies lead me to pursue more travel and research across many of the regions that China is becoming economically and politically engaged like Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. My language skills will be useful in my travels and in my interactions with Chinese nationals abroad. I also hope that these studies and travels lead me to a career that engages with the evolving role of China and other emerging markets in international economics and politics. I intend to continue to use my Mandarin skills throughout my career, and I hope to learn new languages along the way.