Jacqualine Asuquo is an alumna of the 2016 CLS Chinese program in Tainan, Taiwan. She is currently at sophomore at the University of Maryland at College Park majoring in Chinese with a minor in Middle Eastern studies. Jacqualine is grew up in Capitol Heights, Maryland and recently transferred to UMD, where she is a member of the university chorus, from Loyola University in Baltimore. In addition to her love for music, Jacqualine enjoys being involved with her local community, traveling, meeting new people, and baking.
I was initially tricked into studying Chinese. In fifth grade, my friends and I were choosing languages for the following school year and we all decided to take Chinese together. At the time, we were all taking French. I signed up for Chinese and when the school year started, I waited for them to join me in the Chinese language line, but they were still in the French line. I wasn’t allowed to switch languages, and I ended up loving Chinese - not only the language, but also the culture, history, and traditions. I decided to continue studying it into college, and now my goal is to have a career in which I can use my Chinese.
A ‘Classical’ Mix-up
One evening during the second week of the program, I was at home studying in my room when I heard a noise that sounded like Beethoven’s “Fur Elise.” I have always equated that sort of chiming music with ice cream trucks. I was so excited, thinking to myself, “The ice cream truck is here!” Naturally I grabbed my wallet and ran downstairs to meet the truck. To my complete surprise, I ran out to a bright yellow garbage truck playing music as people filed out of their houses to throw away their trash. I was shocked to discover that in Taiwan, garbage trucks play music when they are nearby, similar to how United States ice cream trucks play music. Coincidentally, the next week one of our units was called “垃圾车来了!” (“The Garbage Truck is Here!”) where we learned all about Taiwan’s trash and recycling system. From this first-hand experience, I was able to tell my classmates in detail all about trash in Taiwan.
Diversity is an Asset
Being African-American, I utilized the experiences that I had of people questioning my skin color, touching my hair, and asking me questions to educate them on my background and my culture.
Words of Wisdom
“没问题” means “no problem.” I love that in the Chinese language, words and phrases have so much meaning behind them. Every day when one of us made mistake, we said 没问题. It meant that learning is a process of growth, every day we have another chance to try again and improve. Learning a language is challenging, but through CLS I was able to make mistakes in a safe environment and challenge myself. I encourage everyone to study a language and study abroad.