Obies Using Languages: Nick Scott ’17

Nick Scott is an East Asian Studies major who attended CET Kunming Summer 2015, CIEE Accelerated Chinese Fall 2015, and Middlebury in Hangzhou Spring 2016.

I’m Nick and I spent the the last year studying in China in the cities of Kunming, Shanghai, and Hangzhou. In that time, I turned my two wonderful years of Mandarin at Oberlin into my main talent, and one that will stay with me for life.  My language skills transformed from a tool of communication into a portal into new worlds of people and experiences. Going into my year abroad, I had thought that language abilities would be the most valuable reward that I would gain, but I was dearly mistaken.  Instead, the perspectives and values that I learned through Chinese friends, teachers, and other acquaintances became accessible through my language and cultural knowledge, and produced a profound shift in my own mindset. At home, I may be an average American college student, but that truly means so much more in the grander scheme of things.

At a more fundamental level, my Mandarin abilities and time studying in China revealed to me a liveliness across the broad expanse of different aspects in life, and it is this kind of understanding that I have taken back with me, and has me more engaged with the vibrance of life at home and in my education than ever before. Beyond understanding language as a tool, sufficient language ability acts as a point of reception for people’s expression of the experiences in their lives.  And with even a little bit of exploration, you can stumble across understandings that become treasures to you and transform your own experience of life.

Town of Dali, Yunnan, Summer 2015

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