Obies Using Language: Olivia Evans ’18

Olivia is a first-year student currently taking Chinese at Oberlin. Over Winter Term, she traveled in a group of six to China on a trip led by Professor Qiusha Ma. 

(Students in the picture from left to right: Emma Laube ’17, Andrew Boor ’18, Meredith Leung ’17, Olivia Evans ’18, Becca Debus ’17, and Katie Mercer-Taylor ’17.)

Over Winter Term, a group of six students traveled to China on a trip led by Professor Qiusha Ma. The trip lasted about two weeks, and we visited Beijing, Taigu, and Chengdu. While the main focus of the trip was to study China’s environmental NGOs, language acquisition was also a major component of our visit. Our language abilities were varied, ranging from one student with no prior knowledge of Chinese, to students in 100, 200, and 400 language classes here at Oberlin.

​This trip not only expanded our vocabulary, listening comprehension, and speaking abilities, but also provided us with a larger cultural context for understanding the Chinese language. Although we were traveling as a group, there were still many opportunities for us to put our Chinese to use. We were able to converse in Chinese with peers at Beijing Normal University and Shanxi Agricultural College, were exposed to local dialects and colloquial Chinese everywhere we went, and in our free time had to independently use Chinese to communicate in shops and restaurants. Professors Ma and Gao also spent time to give us casual language lessons, but more importantly were able to give us context and explanations of things we were directly experiencing. While we all came into this trip with different language backgrounds and levels, we all were able to make significant progress in developing our Chinese language skills.

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