Jia Mei ’21, a molecular biology major at Colorado College, has been awarded a Gilman International Scholarship for the Spring 2019 semester to participate in the Colorado College in China program.
The two-month program, which takes place during Block 7 and 8, offers CC students Chinese language courses at Fudan University in Shanghai. In additional to the core curriculum of elementary and intermediate Chinese, the program includes diverse cultural experiences and trips to cities such as Xi'an, Beijing, Suzhou, and Hangzhou. Classes are conducted by both Chinese and CC professors and taught on the Block Plan schedule.
Mei notes that for the past 15 years, she has been raised in Memphis, Tennessee, with a blend of both American and Chinese cultures. “My development of a Chinese American identity — both a conflicting, yet an essentialist part of me — has led me to many questions concerning my understanding of the definitions of race, nationality, and sense of belonging. I hope that I will have the opportunity to truly experience China beyond the information filtered through my mom’s storytelling, CCTV’s news, and social media feeds,” she says.
Mei, who plans to minor in Asian Studies, cites the value of a liberal arts education in her Gilman Scholarship application, saying it has allowed her to fully explore the possibilities of an interdisciplinary education in both the humanities and the sciences. As an example, she points to her anthropology class, where she collaborated with a group of students and wrote about the Asian-American identity spectrum and her experiences as a CC student. In her biology class she wrote an ethics essay arguing for scientists and bioethicists to work together to ensure proper ethical practices by researchers.
“All of these academic explorations have deepened my understanding of who I am and what I care about,” she says. “I want to become a science educator who interweaves the humanities and arts.”
Gilman Scholars are asked to conduct a follow-up project, and Mei plans to make a WordPress blog and a short film of her experiences with classmates while in China.
This year approximately 800 students were selected to receive scholarships from a field of nearly 3,400 applications.
The Gilman Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, offers grants of up to $5,000 to U.S. undergraduate students, with those studying a critical-need language eligible to receive up to $8,000. The program is supported in its implementation by the Institute of International Education (IIE).
Since 2001 the program has enabled more than 25,000 students of diverse backgrounds to engage in a meaningful educational experience abroad. The program has successfully broadened U.S. participation in study abroad, while emphasizing countries and regions where fewer Americans traditionally study.