First-Year Seminar: Exploring Chinese Culture; Advanced Chinese; Chinese Culture and Society
My research interests are wide. I study cognitive linguistics, Chinese linguistics, foreign language anxiety, heritage language learners, and recently, I’ve worked in online intercultural exchanges. I started with cognitive linguistics, which I think is a very innovative way to study language. When I moved to the United States in 2008 and began my second Ph.D. program, my professor was conducting studies on foreign language anxiety, and I was drawn in. Chinese can be difficult, and I have observed there can be anxious learners. I feel that doing research in that area can help the students, including heritage learners—students who have parents who were native Chinese speakers at home, but the students don’t develop writing and reading skills. At Northwestern University, where I taught prior, I developed learning materials specifically for heritage learners. That is now an area of research.
I have been working here for six years as a lecturer and visiting assistant professor. I really love it here. I love the faculty interaction. Our department has so many nice people, which makes it wonderful to come to work. I also love the small atmosphere and the opportunities I get to interact with my students. They stop by my office to talk about their career goals and also their personal lives. I enjoy getting to know them so well. Lafayette is a very special place.
I try to create a very happy and relaxing atmosphere for students. Every class is a Chinese cultural and language community for students. I encourage them to interact not only in class but also outside class. I started a Chinese-American program at Lafayette. We hold a lot of extra-curricular cultural events, such as the Mid-Autumn Festival, karaoke night, dumpling party, Chinese New Year. We do a lot. We also have an online intercultural exchange with students in China who are learning English. We use an app called WeChat to exchange text and voice and video messages with each other. It’s more than language, it’s social and cultural exchanges and relationship building. I’m happy we are doing it. Students love it. Many of them make friends in China, and some visit them while studying abroad.
I like to collect dresses. It’s the easiest way to get dressed in the morning; you don’t have to worry about matching. I have hundreds. They are all from China. I order online, but direct shipping from China can be a hassle so if I have friends or family visiting China, I’ll ask them to shop for me, and they’ll bring back a suitcase full.
This is a book my oldest daughter, Hannah, wrote last year when she was seven. Her second-grade teacher encouraged her to write. Hannah came home and said, “I’m going to write a book.” She kept writing for about 8 months. In January, she came to me and said, “My book is finished; could you publish it for me?” I read the whole thing. It has a good storyline, and she did the cover illustration herself. It’s very detailed. I was impressed, and so I agreed to help her publish it. Her principal gave her a special award and encouraged her classmates to buy it on Amazon. She is very proud. I think it’s a good example of persistence. My husband and I are always telling our daughters how important it is to persist. When you have difficulties and face challenges, you can overcome them if you work hard. Hannah is now writing a sequel. She is keeping the details a secret, but her little sister told me that there are dragons in it.