Works by St. Olaf Chinese majors accepted for publication in journals
Essays by St. Olaf College Chinese majors Jodie Clay ’23 and Ling O’Donoghue ’21 will be making their debut in undergraduate publications this year.
While taking the class Chinese 320: Food and Language in Chinese Society, Clay wrote a review of her favorite restaurant in a piece titled “数一数二的鼎泰丰 (Ding Tai Feng – The World Renowned Restaurant).” In the piece she highlights the ambiance of Ding Tai Feng, noting that customers can watch their soup dumplings being made right in front of them, and shares what she orders there. Her essay will be published in the 2022 issue of the JUHE supplement 居荷副刊, a well-known magazine of undergraduate writing in Chinese as a foreign language to promote language learning.
“I thought, ‘There are so many applications, how is my essay on my favorite restaurant going to get in?'” Clay says, noting that she was extremely happy to learn her essay had been selected. “I think they really felt my passion for my favorite restaurant.”
Growing up, Clay spoke Mandarin Chinese with her Taiwanese mother, but she never studied it in school and could not write in the language until attending St. Olaf.
As both a Chinese and computer science major, Clay hopes to pursue a career at Taiwanese Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). She says the opportunity to explore a variety of interests at a liberal arts college have enabled her to discover her passions.
“It is very common to double major at St. Olaf, which made me believe it was possible to be a double major even though they are in two very different fields,” Clay says. “Majoring in computer science and Chinese gives me a more balanced skill set and multiple areas of experience to face my future endeavors.“
O’Donoghue, currently a graduate student pursuing a M.A. in library science at the University of Maryland, wrote “论中国现代社会留守儿童现象之起因与影响 (The Causes and Effects of the Left-Behind Children in Chinese Society)” in Chinese 360: Professional Chinese during her final semester at St.Olaf in spring of 2021. Throughout the course, students presented research to the class, then wrote an essay in the style of their choosing summarizing this information. After contacting the editor of the peer-reviewed Kennesaw Tower, a journal of undergraduate foreign language research, O’Donoghue spent the past year revising her paper before its acceptance. Her work should be published in fall 2022.
O’Donoghue graduated as a Chinese and Asian studies double major. She says St. Olaf helped her explore her academic interests and successfully plan for graduate school — and the pandemic helped hone her ability to plan for the unexpected.
“I think having a plan and making multiple plans for what I wanted to do during my senior year was really helpful,” O’Donoghue says. “As a Chinese and Asian studies double major I really wanted to be abroad, but that didn’t work out as per the pandemic. I think St. Olaf has prepared me in making sure I have my own set of organizational skills and adaptability. I’ve also learned from my St. Olaf Asian Studies and Chinese professors to always be prepared and have contingency plans.”
Both Clay and O’Donoghue were encouraged by Associate Professor of Asian Studies and Chinese Section Head Ying Zhou to submit their work to undergraduate publications.
St. Olaf and the liberal arts education not only prepare our students with language skills and intercultural competence, but also prepare them with critical thinking skills. By graduation, our students usually can apply their literacy skills to critically analyze diverse perspectives on topics related to Chinese and American society and culture.Associate Professor of Asian Studies Ying Zhou
“The writing process is a little more difficult to migrate between English and Mandarin Chinese, but having a professor like Professor Zhou (周老师) was really helpful in cleaning up and clarifying what I was trying to say,” O’Donoghue says.
Zhou says that roughly 15 students graduate with the Chinese major each year and an estimated 20 students take Chinese courses to fill the college language requirements. In addition to the Chinese major, which places emphasis on both linguistic ability and cultural appreciation, St. Olaf offers the Asian Conversations Program for students to further immerse themselves in the learning of languages and cultures in Asia. Around 20-30 first-year students who apply engage in course work focused on Asian history, culture, and practices while studying the Japanese or Chinese language.
“St. Olaf and the liberal arts education not only prepare our students with language skills and intercultural competence, but also prepare them with critical thinking skills,” Zhou says. “By graduation, our students usually can apply their literacy skills to critically analyze diverse perspectives on topics related to Chinese and American society and culture.”