Class of 2011
Irene He Yuan Chinese-America Friendship Award
Being a Mount Holyoke student, we are given opportunities to pursue our passion inside and outside of the classroom. Growing up, I had two cultures competing for my attention. The American culture would want me to explore outside of my comfort zone while the Chinese culture would always be a mystery inside of me just waiting to burst out.
Over the years at Mount Holyoke, I was lucky enough to participate in different programs that allowed me to explore the Chinese culture and to have a better understanding of it. At home, the Chinese culture was just there and usually had no explanations so I had to find out the reasons on my own. I took Chinese classes which enabled me to travel to Beijing in 2009 through the exchange program with Beijing Language and Culture University and Mount Holyoke College. I was able to climb the Great Wall of China, watch an acrobat performance and even learn how to cook several dishes with my Chinese professors. It was an amazing opportunity to not only practice my Chinese but also immerse myself into the culture.
Last summer, I traveled to Ningbo University of Technology in Ningbo, China to teach English. It was a wonderful experience to not only interact with the University students but also learn from them. It was an exchange between cultures where we all could learn from each other. This experience taught me more about myself and gave me the chance to find a balance between the two cultures.