My name is 白友婷, and I am a 6th year senior at the University of Rhode Island.

                My relationship with the Chinese Flagship Program is an unusual one. The offer to join Flagship was extended to me for the first time during my freshman year in 2011, and after I declined, the offer was extended by my Chinese professors at the beginning of every following semester. Each time I declined, my reason was the same: I had no intention of spending a whole year abroad in China.

                Then, in the summer of 2014, I went on a study abroad trip to Hangzhou. In the month I was there, I very, very quickly realized that, while I had made progress in my three years of Chinese study, I hadn’t made nearly as much as I’d wanted to. (I accidentally ordered pig heart at a restaurant because I just pointed to a random dish on a menu I couldn’t read.) When I returned to URI that fall and the offer to join Flagship to was extended once more, I accepted, simply because I heard that joining Flagship would be the best method of ensuring the Chinese proficiency I wanted.

                Now, in my Capstone year of study, I can firmly say that attending Capstone has greatly helped advance my Chinese. For one, I have gotten faster at reading. (Speed-wise, for me, this isn’t saying much: my reading speed has increased from a weighed-down snail’s pace to that of a turtle.) But, the number of instances where I have to read long, complicated sentences over and over and over and over to understand their meaning has decreased significantly. 

                For another, I’ve gotten better at speaking. My tones, while most certainly not perfect, have improved significantly, and it is now very rare that I run into a situation where a native speaker is unable to understand what I’m saying due to incorrect tonal pronunciation. My ability to respond on the fly, and to explain unfamiliar situations, has also improved significantly.