When I did an internship in UNESCO-APNIEVE (Asia Pacific Network for International Education and Values Education), I gained the opportunity to communicate with African children from online classes. The smiling, enthusiastic reaction to my words in class not only gave me a heartwarming sense of accomplishment, but also struck a soothing chord in my mind. I believe that a career in helping people to understand the interconnectedness of human beings is a destiny that I have dreamed of my entire life, and that is education.
I grew up in a family where my mother is a distance-learning educator and my father is a professor. Our dinner table conversations, which embraced issues such as lifelong learning, pedagogical skills and educational reform, exerted a gradual and subtle influence on my awareness of teaching and learning. Studying at Beijing Language and Culture University deepened my understanding of education. The major courses such as Classroom Instruction of TCSL (Teaching Chinese as a Second Language) and Educational Psychology not simply prepared me the knowledge of teaching skills but supplied me with a new perspective on cross-cultural education as well. Living in a diversified campus community with students from all over the world, I have learned how to interact with people with different backgrounds.
In my sophomore year, after a competitive selection process, I won the opportunity to participate in China Future Leadership Project (CFL) organized by Boya Elite and went to Harvard and Columbia for exchange study. This opportunity of studying in America for one month as an exchange student greatly expanded my multicultural experience and ignited my passion for multicultural education. The views of the world-famous professors on cutting edge issues like international education, cross-cultural communication and social development broadened my horizon. Based on discussion in class with Prof. Deanna Kuhn, a psychology professor in Columbia, my mind became much clearer about the function and strategic method of heuristic teaching. Moreover, I was honorably praised as ‘cultural ambassador’ for my endeavor to introduce the value of TCSL to professors and other exchange students. With this exchange experience, I acquired a richer understanding about how to nurture talents under the context of globalization.
My extensive experience at home and abroad has propelled me to do research on multilingual education and communication. In September 2008, I won the opportunity to get involved in the establishment of, and research on, the ‘Corpus of Oral Chinese in Natural Communication’ and ‘Corpus of Oral Chinese Inter-Language’, which is a sub-project of the ‘Undergraduate Teaching, Education Reform & TCSL Teaching Team Project’ initiated by the Beijing Education Committee, the positions for undergraduates are very limited and highly competitive. First, I led a small group to establish the corpus by designing questionnaires, selecting research objects, and recording oral Chinese in natural communication. Then we took analysis of the collected information. I found the difference that was presented when foreign students spoke Chinese is closely related to the speaker’s background, including factors such as gender, age, mother tongue, education, and occupation. In the meantime, I perceived that the major task for educator is to help foreign students develop the ability to select effective intercommunication strategies according to different situations. For example, a shift in language style from formal occasions to semi-formal or casual occasions.
In addition to language research, I also did research on teaching skills. During my undergraduate study, I tutored many students from the United States, France, Australia, Britain, Norway, and Germany. As part of my education, I also did an internship in the College of Advanced Chinese Training at Beijing Language and Culture University in May 2012. Being a TCSL instructor, I was in charge of 18 students from 11 countries. My vivid explanation of words and phrases won appreciative responses from the students. Based on my theory research and this teaching experience I wrote the paper, ‘Analysis on Teaching Skills of TCSL in Primary Learning Stage’, which was published in Cutting Edge Education, an influential academic journal in China. This program helped me understand the importance of culture and education in different countries as we cannot realize the value of education until education theory is combined with local situations. Besides delivering knowledge, education should also function as a spiritual bond for promoting mutual respect of different cultures.
I felt a more urgent need to pursue further studies in bicultural education when I did the internship in UNESCO-APNIEVE from August to November in 2012. As the Assistant to President Prof. XXX, I mainly helped UNESCO-APNIEVE promote the International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) program in Asia. Participating in conferences such as ‘International Education: New Policies’, ‘Cross-Cultural Learning in 21st Century’, and ‘Cross-Cultural Learning for International Understanding and Living Together in Harmony’, my vision on global education and cross-cultural communication has been substantially extended. I find it essential to consider tradition, culture and politics in the process of promoting education. This internship makes me become aware of the fact that international education will enable people of different races to understand and respect each other.
My professional goal is to become a successful multicultural educator. The master’s-level academic training program at Columbia University will help me get ready to play on the world-stage. The interdisciplinary approach of the Bilingual/Bicultural Education program will equip me with a solid academic foundation for comprehensive perspectives on cross-cultural education. I am convinced that your master’s-level academic training will give me a tool helping me to realize my dream---an international educator with an unwavering commitment to bridging different cultures.