At home or abroad, Cadets learn to say ni hao to China
Story by Gregory Webster
Citadel Graduate College Class of 2013 and External Affairs graduate assistant
Shane Woodard always dreamed of climbing the Great Wall of China.
For a cadet studying history, a $2,000 plane ticket should have complicated that dream. But thanks to Project GO, a U.S. Department of Defense study abroad grant program, Woodard was able to realize this goal.
Because of his China experience this past summer, Woodard sees himself working at an embassy or in a foreign office position after his career with the Navy concludes.
“I originally found interest in Chinese history and it blossomed into Chinese culture all together,” he said recounting his experience studying at the Beijing Language and Culture University. “I am fully aware of the relationship of the United States and China and I feel the more I understand about China the better citizen I can be.”
Project GO, which was extended for the 2011-2012 academic year, provides money for China study abroad opportunities for cadets who will commission in the military as well as funding for the development of language courses at the college. With the more than $350,000 The Citadel has received since 2009, the college has opened up many more opportunities for the study of Mandarin at home and abroad.
“The Department of Defense is interested in increasing the number of commissioned cadets with competency in what they consider a ‘critical language,’ ” said Zane Segle, professor of modern languages. “Mandarin is one of those languages. They are also interested in helping The Citadel grow our Chinese program in hopes of attracting more cadets to study Mandarin.”
Chinese language instruction has been offered since 2007. In the fall of 2012, the college will offer a minor in Mandarin and its third Maymester trip to China will follow in the spring.
Segle said the growth of study abroad opportunities and Mandarin classes have each worked to help the other grow.
Taking a full semester or summer with Project GO is just one way for cadets to say “ni hao” (pronounced knee-how) or hello to China. Since 2008, professors Steve Silver in the School of Business Administration and Keith Knapp, chairman of the history department have organized Maymester trips to China that focus on Chinese history and business.
One of those students was Cadet Joshua Rodgers, a 20-year old political science major from Hinesville, Ga., who returned to China with a Project GO grant for four weeks this past summer. Rodgers said he wants to become fluent in Mandarin so he can pursue his goal of becoming an international lawyer working on Chinese-U.S. business relations and trade deals. He eventually plans to foster trade agreements between the two countries as a congressman.
“I chose to study in China because it is an emerging superpower in all aspects of politics and life,” he said. “I was interested in learning more about the language and culture and I wanted to experience the culture of another country other than America. It helped me realize that America is not the only place on earth and see a less centered view of the world.”
Rodgers credits this realization to the grant he received from Project GO.
“It is tough enough paying for college by itself, study abroad would have been another burden I believe my family would have been unable to handle. The assistance from Project GO made it possible.”