大家好, I’m Kate- alternate alias 林潔瑩／林洁莹/ Lín Jiéyíng. Welcome to my blog chronicling all my (mis)adventures studying Chinese in Kaohsiung, Taiwan (or should I say 台灣，高雄？）through the NSLI-Y Scholarship. Fair warning though: I am chronically inept at keeping current with blogs- 潔瑩加油吧，right?
NSLI-Y is a program sponsored by the US Department of State to encourage high schoolers to learn less-commonly taught critical languages- Chinese (Mandarin), Korean, Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Hindi, and Russian. It’s a full-scholarship (you could even say they pay you through stipends), and entails either an academic year (9 to 10 months) or a summer (six to seven weeks) of full-immersion language learning in a country which speaks the target language.
I could go on and on about the benefits of NSLI-Y, but it all boils down to this:
full-immersion is the the most efficient and comprehensive way to learn a language, and NSLI-Y offers an opportunity to do just that in an academic setting unparalleled in rigor and support, at no cost. I loved NSLI-Y so much (China Summer Xi’an 2016 alum!) that I had to reapply for year, and I cannot stress enough how thrilled and grateful I am for this opportunity. For more information, visit the NSLI-Y website.
For those who don’t know, I’m a proud 華裔 hailing from Guangxi, China. I was adopted at fourteen months, and have lived in the Midwest US since. Growing up, China fascinated me and I tried to stay somewhat in-touch and informed about the culture. However, Chinese wasn’t offered at my schools and though I wanted to know Chinese, I never really made learning it a priority.
This changed two years ago however, when I returned to China with a group of teenage adopted girls to volunteer at an orphanage. This trip was a wake-up call to me, reminding me in an extremely visceral way of all the connections I still keep with China, and which I will forever have as a part of myself. I was also reminded sharply of the differences which kept me from truly understanding said connections- language being the deepest barrier. I decided that summer that my future had to include China, and I was especially interested in taking a gap year after high school to go back to China and explore more deeply some of the questions I had about my cultural and personal background. This would naturally necessitate proficiency in Chinese, prompting me to begin seriously studying Chinese in school (my high school was the recipient of a one-year Chinese teacher through the State Department Teachers of Critical Languages Scholarship) and apply for the NSLI-Y program, leading me to here.
Though my exact relationship to China and Chinese identity is constantly changing, my desire to foster understanding through language learning has only grown. I’m excited not only to study in Taiwan through NSLI-Y as a way to grow academically and career-wise (I’d like to pursue a career in international relations focusing on East-Asia/China), as well as explore my identity through a different-tinted lens.
Miscellaneous Facts About Me
Kung fu is kinda my thing (practiced for nine years strong), and I’m definitely a bubble tea (and all things food) enthusiast; k-hiphop and trashy dramas are my jam. Back home you can find me joy-riding my way on the metro bus, sipping coffee, and studying Chinese (potentially all three at the same time).
After NSLI-Y I’ll be at American University majoring in International Studies with a focus on East-Asia China, with a potential double-major in statistics and/or a minor in a language.