EVENT REVIEW: BU at the National Chinese Language Conference

From April 7-9 2013, the National Chinese Language Conference (NCLC), which is “dedicated to encouraging dialogue in the field of Chinese language education and ensuring wide-scale success,” had their 6th annual conference in Boston.

Boston University took part in two panels at the Conference. The first was entitled Next Steps for Our Chinese Language Students: Study In and About China at the University Level.
In this session, panelists will draw from Boston University’s programs of study to demonstrate the  continuity of experiences available to students who are already interested in China and the Chinese  language. Members of the panel will explore the breadth of programs available for such students at  the university level in the following areas: the value and rationale of study abroad in China (in this  case, Shanghai), Chinese language study and subject areas, and the resources of the Center for the  Study of Asia. A student will speak about his experience in transitioning from high school to college  and then to Shanghai in pursuit of his interests. Participants will leave with an understanding of what  opportunities lie ahead for their China-interested and Chinese-proficient college-bound students. With Joe Fewsmith, Weijia Huang, Charlotte MasonDebra Terzian, Lee Veitch.

In a report from Charlotte Mason, a visiting researcher with BUCSA and moderator of the panel:

The B.U. panel’s presentation at NCLC encapsulated the college experience for a prospective student from high school already interested in Chinese language, culture, and history. It did this by drawing generalizations from B.U.’s program.
DSC00911Lee Veitch (Student Ambassador for Boston University Study Abroad Diplomats) said that he felt well prepared by his Chinese teacher at Bronx Science for college level Chinese, but returned to the school later to suggest that simplified characters and pin yin be used. He described how study abroad in Shanghai made him a more focused, more confident, and more engaged student, active in Asiabu. He feels confident in finding work in his field of International Relations.

DSC00913Debra Terzian provided an overview and rationale for study abroad, and described B.U.’s effort to design different models of program at Fudan to attract increasing numbers of students in different majors and at different levels of Chinese language study.

Huang Weijia suggested how Chinese teachers can better prepared their students for college level Chinese, and suggested that better articulation of Chinese levels between schools and college is necessary, as well as differentiated materials.

DSC00915Joe Fewsmith explained that, in this age of globalization, it is increasingly important to engage with Asia to understand issues and solve problems in a world context. He explained that it is a trend in large research universities to create centers for the study of Asia helps to improve communication across disciplines, provide a greater depth of experience for students, and generate more enthusiasm for the field. He said that students who major in Asian Studies (and related fields) and who are proficient in Chinese have many opportunities in the job market: in business, in diplomacy, in academia, and in all professions.

Meanwhile, in the China Across Subject Areas: The Career Connection panel, Boston University professor Robert E. Murowchick, Assistant Professor of Archaeology and Anthropology and Director of the International Center for East Asian Archaeology and Cultural History (ICEAACH) was speaking about Asia throughout the curricula and about opportunities to work in field related to the study of Asia/China.

Robert E. Murowchick

As more and more U.S. students develop high levels of proficiency in Chinese, it becomes ever more necessary to understand the connections between Chinese language learning, other academic content, and career and professional development. It is simply not enough to learn the language or engage with the culture. Students must integrate the study of the Chinese language with a broader vision for their academic and professional interests and their long-term career goals. The participants in this panel are leading voices in the field who have worked with students at all levels to broaden and deepen their understanding of and engagement with China, and to connect language learning with the development of other critical skills. We will hear from representatives of fields and perspectives as diverse as archaeology, engineering and business, and explore the ways in which learning Chinese is helping students to create new and exciting career trajectories. Introduced by Julia de la Torre, Executive Director, Primary Source. Moderated by Sara Judge McCalpin, President, China Institute in America. Speakers: Sigrid Berka, Executive Director, International Engineering Program, University of Rhode Island; Der-lin Chao, Director, Chinese Flagship Program, Hunter College, City University of New York (and President, Chinese Language Teachers Association); Robert E. Murowchick, Director, International Center for East Asian Archaeology and Cultural History, Boston University.