5 December 2018
The year may be winding down, but our student ambassadors are still hard at work! Learn more about three of our student ambassadors below and why they are committed to strengthening US-China relations.
Vivian Auduong 欧阳祖恩, 20
As a Chinese-American whose parents were born in Vietnam, Vivian Auduong first began studying Mandarin seven years ago as a way to connect with her heritage. Though it was initially her parents’ suggestion, she ultimately fell in love with the language and the process of learning herself through reciting poetry, watching movies, and seeing her own progress.
A Chicago native, Vivian studied abroad in Beijing during high school as part of the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y), an initiative to promote critical language learning among American youth by awarding merit-based scholarships to high school students for participation in immersion programs.
She feels that her experience studying abroad in Beijing and collaborating with fellow students profoundly impacted her personal growth by making her a more empathetic person. Beyond that, seeing innovations like bullet trains and mobile pay firsthand in China opened her eyes to the possibilities of tech in urban settings. Nominated by American Councils for International Education, Vivian is currently studying Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. As an aspiring engineer, she strongly believes that collaboration and design can improve people’s standard of living and is eager to keep exploring how to make that a reality.
“I believe a better team of engineers is one with diverse perspectives, and learning about languages and cultures is a way for us to better understand global challenges that are present, while also better expressing our ideas to solve those issues.”
Lucca Bey 卢卡, 15
At 15, Lucca Bey is already an advanced Mandarin speaker—having begun his Mandarin journey nine years ago in second grade at Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School. When asked why he was motivated to study Mandarin, Lucca cites his deeply held value for compassion and understanding: “What better way to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of people than to start with a language that the largest populated country speaks?”
Now a student at DC International School (DCI), Lucca has studied abroad in Zunyi, Guizhou twice — once through Yu Ying and once through the DCI Voyager Program. Much in the spirit of his internationally-focused educational foundation, Lucca is seriously considering college abroad and pursuing a career path outside the United States.
“I now have more educational opportunities than I’d ever dreamed of when I first started Mandarin in the second grade. Thanks to this, I now have the opportunity to go to any college in China with the understanding of the language, culture, and people there.”
Highly ambitious, Lucca has a number of potential long-term career goals but knows that in the end, he is looking for a career that allows him to influence the world and steer it toward a more socially conscious and sensitive environment.
Michelle Lockett 罗美秀, 17
Some of Michelle Lockett’s fondest childhood memories are of sitting with her grandparents watching old Asian films and TV shows. These snapshots of culture cultivated her deep fascination with East Asia as well as a desire to study language. So when she started high school at Robert Lindblom Math and Science Academy in Chicago and was asked to choose a language track, there was no doubt in her mind which she would pursue: Mandarin.
Through the Chicago Public Schools Chinese Summer Language, Culture, and Technology Initiative (CSLCTI), Michelle studied abroad in China at Hangzhou Wanxiang Polytechnic—a transformative experience which taught her just as much about herself as about the importance of a positive U.S.-China relationship.
“I learned about the many benefits both countries can acquire from a stronger international relationship and its future effects. This, in turn, showed me how one of my biggest aspirations in life is making the world a better place for the humans who inhabit it,” Michelle says. “It showed me that I actually enjoy learning about different cultures, communities of people, my nation, and how it all relates to me. It inspired me to get more involved with this major economic, political, and social issue either in my college career or future career to follow.”
Still early in her Mandarin journey, Michelle is eager to ultimately obtain fluency in order to help build bridges between American and Chinese cultures. “Every character, proverb, and historical fact I learn brings me one step closer to better understanding another part of the world,” she says. Given the sheer size of the world’s Chinese population, she feels that there is huge potential in connecting with Chinese people to share ideas and contribute to our ever-advancing societies.
Each year, the US-China Strong Foundation selects American students to serve as ambassadors at the grassroots level. These students represent the diversity of America. They have studied in China and have a deep understanding of Chinese culture and history. As ambassadors, they not only share their transformative China experiences but also play a vital role in furthering the Foundation’s mission.