Genevieve Connell

Credentials: Chinese FLAS; Undergraduate, International Studies

I chose to study and major in Chinese because I would like to teach English abroad in China in the future. There are so many opportunities to help expand the global educational opportunities for kids around the world, and I think learning new languages and cultures, and teaching them, is a great way to develop an increasingly global generation that is more in tune with world affairs and peaceful international relations. Additionally, in order to build those strong and meaningful relationships and partnerships, it is essential to be able to communicate with different kinds of people in the hopes of understanding new ideas. With these new ideas and perspectives, it is possible to approach innovative solutions to a lot of social and maybe even political and environmental issues.

FLAS gave me the ability to be able to go abroad and have a completely immersive experience with my language studies. This immersion factor was absolutely key in improving my conversational skills because while abroad, I was in an environment where I had to use Chinese for practical day to day activities and interacting with the local people. The classes I took were also taught in Chinese. Being able to go out and not hear English as the primary language was a truly refreshing experience that required adaption as well as a much higher level of focus than on campus. Whereas we are used to communicating in our native languages in the place we are used to, we don’t have that kind of luxury while abroad. I lived and breathed Chinese as frequently as possible not only because I love it, but because my environment required me to challenge myself. Being able to interact with native speakers while also improving literacy skills was something that really helped elevate my Chinese level. This experience also allowed me to have the pleasure of working with so many wonderful teachers and classmates who became a source of encouragement and support during a challenging six weeks away from everything easy and familiar.

For future students interested in applying for FLAS, I would say to absolutely go for it! FLAS was a dream and an honor to receive and was the reason I was able to learn and grow so much and improve my language skills. I felt like such a boss coming back home having improved my Chinese that much. Having the immersive experience abroad reinvigorated my motivation and drive to continue learning foreign languages. It was a lot of fun being able to live through such an interesting, wild, and dynamic part of my life within what now feels like such a short amount of time. Like all things, it did have its ups and downs, but I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world. I hope that future FLAS applicants and recipients have the same amazing life journey I did and will enjoy every second of it.