Rachel Smith: Sharing a Language with Millions
“I’m realizing that not only is there a whole world out there, but it is much more accessible than I ever dreamed. I am learning that no goal is too high and that there’s no harm in trying.”
After a year on the Transylvania University campus, Rachel Smith ‘15 is somewhat taken aback when she hears her high school friends—who are studying at other colleges and universities—talk about where in their hometown they want to settle down after they get their degrees. Smith can only think about all of the countries she wants to visit and the unlimited possibilities that lie ahead for her. She says her Chinese classes have been “instrumental in shaping this newfound ambition.”
Smith was uneasy at first about how successful she would be learning Chinese. However, due to Chinese professor Qian Gao’s ability to create a welcoming, low-stress classroom environment that helps her students take the risks necessary to learn a language—while learning a lot about each other—Smith is amazed at her progress.
“After only two terms of study, I’m already watching Chinese TV shows and listening to Chinese songs and finding that I can understand a fair portion of what they're saying. I can have entire conversations with my classmates strictly in Chinese. I can communicate with millions more people in the world.”
Smith is considering majoring in writing, rhetoric, and communication, with a possible minor in international affairs, so her ability to communicate proficiently with large numbers of people around the world is no small matter. Her familiarity with Chinese may well factor into her career plans, or give her a leg up when she begins a job search.
Smith chose Transylvania in part because of the “strides it is taking toward diversity and expansion.” She also liked the energy she detected among its students and faculty.
Now that she’s on campus, she likes that the professors “trust me to learn.” She has embraced the liberal arts curriculum that allows her to sample a variety of courses while still staying on track to graduate in four years. She also understands what sets a liberal arts institution apart from many others. “The liberal arts program of study is the difference between going to college to become a role and going to college to learn to love learning.”
It didn’t take long for Smith to identify with Transylvania. “It is impossible to separate myself from my experiences at Transylvania. The things I have done there have shaped who I am. Transylvania has opened my eyes so much to new ideas, people, and cultures, but most importantly, to the possibilities that lie in the future for me.”