Chinese Flagship students accepted into Princeton in Beijing

Kate Hart, sophomore, was recently accepted into the Chinese Intensive program at Princeton University in Beijing for the summer of 2016. Hart, an International Affairs, Spanish and Asian Religions and Cultures triple major also studies in the Chinese Flagship Program as well as being active in multiple organizations on campus. Hart, born in Switzerland, is excited about traveling to China this summer, and is used to traveling. “Being away from home is no big deal for me, I’ve traveled my whole life,” said Hart. “I know the work is going to be hard, but I’m used to it.” Michaela Miller/HERALD

Madison Martin

For sophomores like Kate Hart and Dalton Harshbarger, becoming bilingual in Spanish was a goal they carried into college, but they did not stop there. WKU’s Chinese Flagship Program, one of only 12 nationally, drew these students in for its comprehensive program that requires great diligence but produces high proficiency in the Chinese language.

These students have the opportunity to study in China for eight weeks in an immersive language study at the Princeton in Beijing program through Princeton University.

“If you’re going to learn a language, Flagship is definitely the way to do it because the results it produces are just incredible,” said Hart, who majors in Spanish, international affairs and Asian religions and cultures at Princeton.

Flagship sophomore and Belleville, Illinois, native Nathan Read, who majors in international affairs, economics and Asian religions and cultures, was also accepted. The students will repeat another summer studying in a high immersion program.

Last year they attended Indiana University’s Flagship Chinese Institute, which Hart said is a step first-year Flagship students may choose to take before tackling a program abroad. The step necessitates further language proficiency.

These common ties have bonded the sophomores as they’ve toiled through the Chinese Flagship Program together.

“We’ve really bonded over just common struggles like trying to do this homework by the end of the night so you can get enough sleep so we can study all day the next day and the next day and the next day,” Read said. “I’m really excited to see where all of us end up.”

Princeton in Beijing considers itself a unique immersion program because it uses Princeton University’s model of teaching while in China. It emphasizes fluency through accuracy, providing every two to three students with at least one teacher, according to the program’s website.

Harshbarger, a Spanish and international business major from Burlington, said there will be “endless opportunity for advancement and practice” throughout the program. This is because of the constant use of Chinese within class and the city. Students are required to sign a pledge stating they will only speak Chinese during their two months in the country’s capital.

Princeton in Beijing is said to be one of the most difficult and intensive programs available to Flagship students, but that’s precisely what Read saw as a selling point.

“I think it’s another great opportunity, like I said, to improve myself,” Harshbarger said, “because in the future, I want to work for a Chinese company.”

The three students are looking forward to advancing their abilities in the language and being placed in an environment where using the language is essential to everyday living.

“I guess a year and a half isn’t that long to be studying language, but to have seen my language progress so far in that amount of time, I’m really excited to be able to actually use it in the country,” Hart said.