JOSHUA PHIPPS 2014-2015

My year abroad studying as part of the Chinese Flagship Program was a fulfilling and worthwhile experience on many fronts, with endless opportunities to improve my language abilities, acquire a more nuanced understanding of Chinese culture, and share unforgettable memories with my teachers, classmates, and friends. The Flagship Capstone year exceeded my lofty expectations, in large part because of the direction, implementation, and execution of the program by the American Councils team and the staff they assembled to conduct the program in China, and I highly recommend studying in the program for the Chinese Flagship Capstone year.

The exceptional teaching staff is a huge part of why this program is so successful. Zhu Laoshi(朱老师), Li Laoshi (李老师), and Sun Laoshi (孙老师)are all extremely talented teachers, and used challenging, relevant lessons to help us further develop our language skills and introduce new cultural concepts, providing a platform to express our thoughts and opinions on topics ranging from the Chinese education system and the evolution of classical Chinese Thought to the impact of social media and the future of artificial intelligence. We also had weekly class excursions to different locales in the area to supplement our knowledge of Chinese society and culture with lessons on the rich history and culture specific to the city, and through interacting with local historians and educators, I gained a real appreciation for the city’s historical and cultural contributions.

I have many favorite moments from my year abroad, and it would be hard to nail down just one. I really enjoyed our class trip to Jing De Zhen in Jiangxi Province, which is known as the “porcelain capital” of China. During this trip, we got to visit several porcelain museums, as well as visit several artists at their shop and learn about the history and production methods of their craft. We also had the chance to visit the beautiful Jiangxi countryside, stroll through old villages, and try the local food, which was a great opportunity for the teachers and students to interact on a more personal level and form closer bonds as a group.

Another favorite part of the program was participating in a social club at the university. Two other Flagship classmates and I opted to join the Nunchuks Club, which was a great opportunity to socialize and bond with college students, as well as learn to use nunchuks from some very skilled instructors. The members of the Nunchuks Club could not have been more friendly and welcoming to us, as they often invited us to dinner, walked us back to the bus stop after class, and even invited us to participate in a club performance for the school. No matter how little my nunchuks skills improved during the course of a meeting, I always felt that learning from the teachers and interacting with fellow club members was time well spent, and I really miss being a part of that group.