The corner of Beijing and Charlottesville
Chinese Corner gives students opportunity to improve Mandarin, interact with native speakers
After a long day of Thursday classes, upwards of 60 students file into Monroe Hall at 6 p.m., ready for a weekly dose of culture and language at Chinese Corner.
During the program, students meet and chat with students from China to improve their conversation ability and listen to weekly presentations by club members on different aspects of Chinese culture.
“Getting to know all the international students from China [is the most rewarding part of the club],” first-year College student Amanda O’Mara said. “There is a lot of culture to be learned.”
Chinese Corner is open to students across all years, but most of attendees are first-years enrolled in CHIN 1010 or CHIN 1020, “Elementary Chinese.” Professors require these students to attend a minimum eight sessions per semester to practice class material.
“We have to get a paper signed by a friend [from Chinese Corner],” first-year College student Virginia Long said. “Last semester, [our professor] would give us questions with the chapter that we were learning to ask the person and practice with them before the quiz.”
Chinese Corner provides students a supportive environment to practice their Mandarin outside the classroom, giving them an opportunity to engage with Chinese natives without feeling insecure.
“I think [Chinese Corner] is very friendly and [the members] are all very encouraging to you,” Long said. “If you make a mistake, they will just correct you and give you helpful tips.”
Second-year College student Yijiang Guo, the Chinese Corner vice president, said he has gained a deeper understanding of American culture and society from his participation in the organization.
“I definitely feel like [talking to students evoked] some … things I never thought about when I first came to America, in terms of talking and engaging in American culture,” Guo said. “Talk[ing] to them has made me relatively more mature and more thoughtful in terms of my identity and how I am supposed to live with my [Chinese] culture here.”
Chinese Corner is a joint collaboration between Chinese Scholars and Students and Chinese teachers. The East Asian Languages department helps Chinese Corner officers increase awareness about events on Grounds. Officers also work with other Chinese student organizations, such as the Mainland Student Network, to organize joint events promoting Chinese lifestyle and traditional celebrations.
The club holds at least two professional events each semester, for which officers invite University professors or visiting scholars from China to talk about their experiences and how life differs in America.
“Chinese Corner, especially with my interest to help other people and to talk to other students about their point of views, changed and matured my complex view of society,” Guo said. “To me, [the most rewarding part] is definitely seeing other people enjoying the food we cook, the events we [coordinate] and activities we prepare.”