Why did you want to study your CLS target language?
In the summer of 2010, I taught English in a rural Chinese city in Hunan. I did not know a single word of Mandarin but the friendships that I made developed my love for the Mandarin language.

What are your educational and/or professional goals?
I plan to be an educator for low-income communities in the State of Hawaii.

How do you plan to use your target language in the future?
I hope to use Mandarin to help the large immigrant population who need help with issues related to education, health, and the law.

How did participation in the CLS Program affect your life?
I was able to interact with other American students who also had the interest of learning Mandarin. I made lifelong friends from China as well as the US. My Mandarin proficiency jumped two levels and my language fluency is at a place where I am confident to speak with native Chinese speakers.

What was your favorite part about being in your host country?
One hour tutor sessions with my Chinese college language partner. We loved talking about American college life culture and how it differs with Chinese college life.

What did you learn about your host country that you didn't know before?
You should never put your leg up in class in China. It's disrespectful. My language partner also said in China they don't shrug their shoulders.

Please share a short story about your CLS Program experience.
I had an assignment to create a video with fellow classmates. My language partner and I translated quotes from my favorite movie, Mean Girls. This was the best experience I had because the facial expressions on my language partner's face were priceless every time I translated a quote from the movie. I told her Means Girls shaped my generation and she just stared at me with a confused look.

What is your favorite target language word or phrase, and what does it mean in English?
周丹锐,下午有什么计划? Zhou Dan Rui, what are you plans for this afternoon? This will be forever stuck in my head. It's my favorite target language sentence because it was the first line of the dialogue that I had to memorize.

What is a must see or must try in your host city or country?
In Suzhou, a must see is the Leaning Tower of China on Tiger Hill (Hu Qiu). Must try and probably the yummiest is Gu Lao Rou which is like orange chicken from Panda's Express!

What advice would you give prospective applicants, participants on the program, and/or recent CLS alumni?
Smile and laugh. You'll make friends faster and happiness is universal.

Personal background

  • I grew up in a low-income Asian/Pacific Islander immigrant populated community in Hawaii. I'm the first in my family to graduate from high school and college. I'm full Filipino and speak Cebuano (dialect in the Visayas region of the Philippines).
  • When I have free time I usually relax on the beach and eat sushi. I love to play tennis. I love following Hawaii politics and reading about politicians, their lives, their votes, and their tweets. I'm a student Senator in my university's undergraduate student government and I've held the same position since freshman year. I love to eat raw fish.
  • I can say, "I want to eat chicken" in multiple languages.