Career Strategy Fellowships Study Abroad Summer Session

Fellows' Quotes

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What do Light Fellows say about their experiences? Read a sampling of excerpts from their blogs and final reports.

2016-2017

Overall, coming to Taipei has been so great, especially as a post-graduate year. I am heading back to Yale next year to complete a graduate degree. This year so far has been a much-needed break where I can focus on bettering my Chinese, removed from the stress of real classes/finding a job/entering the real world, etc. So, to any graduating senior reading this, do consider applying for the Light Fellowship and coming to Taiwan; it’s been an absolutely amazing experience so far. "

Juliet Ryan
International Chinese Language Program
Academic Year, 2016-2017

When I first returned home from my summer at HBA and was asked, “Do you have any water in your bags?” at the airport by the TSA officer, I instinctively replied in Chinese by saying, “沒有.” ... I initially found it a lot harder to re-obtain this instinct to reply in Chinese in Taiwan because the language pledge doesn’t extend outside of ICLP as it did at HBA, and as a result, I was rarely using Chinese outside of class. Engaging with locals really changed that...You really do only get as much out of the experience as you want, so be sure to immerse yourself as much as you can while you can. "

Mr. Kevin Salinas
International Chinese Language Program
Academic Year, 2016-2017

My language level is extremely comfortable now, and I feel like the fact that I took a year off has had a positive influence on my current learning."

Mr. Robert Loweth
Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies
Academic Year, 2016-2017

In my first blog I wrote about the parks of Beijing. In the parks I was confronted with an overwhelming life force that I had never felt before. The communal dancing, singing, exercising, playing, conversing, arguing, sleeping, swimming, and so on of thousands of people of all ages, shapes, and sizes from the crack of dawn to several hours past sunset was so utterly, fantastically, stupendously alive--more alive than any place I've ever been to in America, more alive than any book, fact or fantasy, that I've ever read. From that first day in China at Purple Bamboo park, I knew that China would turn out to be an entirely different country than what I had assumed."

Leland Stange
CET-Beijing
Summer, 2016-2017

Instruction at ICLP is based around small classes and intensive speaking and listening. It is expected that you prepare the reading and writing exercises outside of class so that class time can be used solely for training oral communication...Overall, I would highly recommend ICLP to students who are looking to improve their ability to speak, read, and write widely in academic contexts. It is also the sort of place where you can work with the teachers to make it what you want, so I’m sure that students who want to really practice writing can ask their teacher to focus on that."

Ms. Charlotte Cotter
Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies
Academic Year, 2016-2017

My decision to take a gap year after sophomore year to attend ICLP was pretty last-minute, especially because for pre-med students such as myself, taking such a gap year in middle of college isn't very common. However, I knew that I would be unable to travel later on or even study abroad because of factors such as medical school interviews, MCAT, etc. Looking back, I think this was definitely the right decision for me, even if it was difficult at the time. "

Selcen Yuksel
International Chinese Language Program
Academic Year, 2016-2017

2016

The combination of the language pledge, one-on-one conversation sessions with our teachers, and everyday bantering with my friends served as an affirmation that I really could make true connections with people through a language that was not my first. PIB helped me embrace and learn to be proud of the Chinese side of my dual identity. "

Ellen Kan
Princeton in Beijing
Summer, 2016

Finally, if there is any advice I would give to future Light Fellows considering KCJS or just studying in Japan, it would be to keep an open mind and proactive go out of your way to engage with locals...Engage with your colleagues, talk with your host family, join a university “circle” (club) and don’t be afraid to invite the other Japanese students to have lunch together – it is through these encounters and not the classroom that you find your languages skills improve the most quickly. "

Yupei Guo
Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies
Fall, 2016

All in all, Sogang focuses on speaking and listening, and I would say that I have vastly improved in pronunciation, fluency, and ability to parse a quickly spoken paragraph. I do not feel that enough emphasis has gone into reading and writing specifically, and while the immersion of living in Korea has helped me in and of itself, I think I might have benefitted from a slightly more rigid program. "

Sem Kroon
Sogang: Korean Language Education Center
Summer, 2016

I learned a lot in the classroom, and even more while exploring the country itself. If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to use every moment! Think of the things that interest you in Korea; the things you won’t be able to do anywhere else, the things that make you feel ‘out of your depth’ at first, the sights you want to see, the food you want to taste...These moments add up, and they’ll make your experience so much richer."

Leila Chang
SNU: Language Education Institute
Summer, 2016

I had to find this restaurant, by myself, in the rain...I caught a nasty cold that lasted for a whole week afterwards, but I was happy because that day was a milestone for me—it was the first time I traveled around Beijing alone. I started to feel independent navigating the public transpo, and that’s also when I completely shed my sense of shame approaching Chinese people and asking for help. I never expected to feel totally fine splashing up next to a fast food delivery moped guy taking shelter under the Tsinghua gate and screaming “WO MI LU LE!” (“I’M LOST!”) over the roar of the winds. "

Skyler Chin
Duke Study in China
Summer, 2016

The last few days in Korea felt rushed and hectic. Despite having had so much time in the country, it seemed like I still had an endless list left: of things to do, food to eat, people to meet...But of the things that I did accomplish, I am proud of my choices...I can always visit Namsan Tower the next time I vacation in the country, but when will I have another opportunity to live like a local?"

Ling Dong
SNU: Language Education Institute
Summer, 2016

Although this trip actually wasn't my first to China, my previous trip was through the eyes of a tourist; this time, as a temporary resident, it was as if I were living in an entirely different country. Really becoming a part of the Shanghai community and adopting the habits of the residents was one of the first instances in my life that I truly felt connected to a culture beyond my own. "

Jack Wesson
UVA in Shanghai
Summer, 2016

If you choose to participate in HBA next year, my greatest pieces of advice would be to take advantage of your time in Beijing. It would be very easy to focus solely on vocabulary and grammar structures, but take the time everyday to wonder around Wudaokou, get to know your teachers during office hours, or find a new spot in the city to explore, for it is in these moments that you truly grow to appreciate the amazing opportunity that is spending the summer in a city as great as Beijing. "

Monica Traniello
Harvard-Beijing Academy
Summer, 2016

A quote that a friend shared with me before I left (he had done Light in Japan the previous summer) ended up being an incredibly helpful one to have in the back of my head throughout the summer while traveling around Taiwan. He said, “ships are safe in port, but that’s not why we build them.” I can tell you it is all too easy to sit inside where there is wonderful, wonderful air-conditioning, but the best way to do Taipei and Taiwan as a whole is to get out of the apartment and into the cities and countryside. "

William Kaelin
International Chinese Language Program
Summer, 2016

It’s easy to quickly label things as “chaotic” or “messy” when you look at public places such as the street or markets in China. It quickly became commonplace among my friends and I to say “China has no rules,” almost hinting at a lack of public manners and appropriate presentation of the self while in public. But it took me two months to realize the dynamics of “rules” within China...And it was this lack of realization on my own part, as well as my classmates, that prevented me from understanding the depth and difference in cultural norms between our two countries."

Jacob Ly
Harvard-Beijing Academy
Summer, 2016

I’m so thankful for this amazing opportunity to learn Korean and experience my motherland for 10 weeks – this has unequivocally been the best summer I’ve had (so far)...I’ve learned what it means to be Korean. I’ve gained insight on Korean society and values, and gained more perspective to complement the Western/American culture I’ve grown up with. I’m certain that this experience has and will continue to influence and shape my thinking."

Hudson Lee
SNU: Language Education Institute
Summer, 2016

Because of the excellent teachers in the Japanese department at Yale, I had pretty high standards coming into Sun Academy – and yet, I was still astounded by the Sun teachers’ level of dedication...One of the hallmarks of the Sun Academy program is their Buddy system...this experience HUGELY helped in honing our Japanese conversational skills, since talking to peers is generally more relaxed than talking during class or to teachers."

Akielly Hu
Sun Academy Nihongo Center
Summer, 2016

Hilariously, when I saw the character for the word “gun” and didn’t know the meaning, my one-on-one teacher used the definition that every American household has one for me to discern the meaning without using English. Clearly, he doesn’t actually believe that each American family has one, but it provided more insight into how Americans are viewed abroad. "

Claire Thompson
CET-Harbin
Summer, 2016

As the Light Fellowship staff emphasizes as well, I think it’s super important to explore the country outside of the classroom. The amount of language you retain depends on what you make of the program, and you can never improve a language just by interacting with book. Every weekend, I explored somewhere and did something new, whether it was night sight-seeing at the Han River, watching a Korean movie, visiting the zoo, singing Korean songs at a noraebang (karaoke), or eating exotic food at the Noryangjin fish market, and utilized the Korean I learned in the classroom."

Meng Fei Shen
SNU: Language Education Institute
Summer, 2016

And yet, it is not with an understanding of the nation or of the people that one should try to leave, it is with a greater understanding of yourself and a faint glimmer of the possibility of having internalized something about a place so different from yours that you will probably try to convince yourself that you can put into words, even just to try to make others understand. "

Matteo Rosati
Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies
Summer, 2016

The Korean phrase산넘어산 (Mountain after mountain) perfectly describes my first term at Yonsei Korean Language Institute. Living abroad has indeed proved to be a series of challenges to overcome; each trial, however, added to the worthwhileness of my experience."

Noah Cho
Yonsei: Korean Language Institute
Fall, 2016

But one thing I know is true that, no communication style is absolute good or bad. The struggles of language barriers are just temporary, whilst the process of building mutual trust is far more important and brings more happiness beyond description. "

Wan-Yu Sung
CET-Osaka
Fall, 2016

As I mentioned at the beginning, my year in Japan was some of the best spent time of my life...Overall, I have learned valuable skills - language and others - made lasting connections and friendships with people in Japan, and as cliché as it might sound, have grown as a person during my time with the Light Fellowship. I highly encourage anyone considering a full year fellowship to take the opportunity – it is unlikely to come again."

Aaron Long
CET-Osaka
Academic Year, 2016

One of the biggest highlights of the social study trip was that we had abundant opportunities to interact with local people in Shao Lin. In order to better understand their lives and viewpoints, we interviewed monks, Kung Fu school students, and residents around Shao Lin. What interested me the most was the difference in their views of Kung Fu and Buddhism."

Michihiro Yasunaga
Harvard-Beijing Academy
Summer, 2016

A few things stand out to be about ICLP academically. First, there seems to be an emphasis on teaching you about Chinese culture and history through the texts...This is especially true with the Classical Chinese class, which ICLP prides itself on. I came in not wanting to take Classical at all (I was more focused on practical application of Chinese), was persuaded otherwise during the placement exam, and ended up absolutely loving it. "

Mr. Eric Truog
International Chinese Language Program
Fall, 2016

We are also coincidentally sitting next to a young man who shares my age and occupation – a nineteen-year-old college student, studying in Beijing and on leave for the summer...I quickly find just how much I’ve improved over the course of the summer – I’m able to carry on conversations with him about cultural differences between Americans and Chinese, about industry and economic practice in China, and about environmental protection and pollution, amongst other things. It’s a wonderful feeling, really flexing the gains from this summer with a complete stranger."

Derek Mubiru
Harvard-Beijing Academy
Summer, 2016

When I think of my time at HBA, Huizhou might be the most significant week of all because I felt like I had genuinely experienced China. Going to class and practicing grammar for five hours a day has its merits, but nothing beats visiting traditional villages, chatting with locals, and appreciating mother nature. Huizhou had it all."

Jimmy Chen
Harvard-Beijing Academy
Summer, 2016

Another advantage of getting outside of the program is that the speaking with native Mandarin speakers will do much more for your language ability then only talking to students and teachers. Conversations outside of the classroom force you to learn new vocab and understand different accents or more vernacular Mandarin."

Alexander Poorvu
UVA in Shanghai
Summer, 2016

IUP and ICLP share common roots and, at lower levels, identical course materials, but these two programs are quite different at the end of the day...Where IUP will give you the maximum amount of information and terminology for a particular profession in the shortest time possible (crash coursing), ICLP seeks to guide you according to intellectual curiosity, be it in translation, composition, literature, etc, and equip you to research and learn on your own. "

Ms. Anna Lu
Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies
Spring, 2016

IUC is the perfect place for those who want to get their hands dirty and significantly improve their ability to use Japanese in high-level settings. Undergraduates less interested in academia/professional careers involving Japanese might be better served by other programs (my class exclusively consisted of graduate students, and I only met a few undergrads out of a total population of around 45), but IUC is neither short on fun nor varied experiences that allow participants to gain a fuller appreciation of Japanese culture. Like almost any other program, a significant part of one’s enjoyment is based on the choices one makes over the course of the summer. "

George Remisovsky
Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies
Summer, 2016

Have you seen the movie Yes Man, with Jim Carrey? It is a great and hilarious movie. Essentially, the protagonist’s life is not going too well, but then he makes a pledge to say yes to everything, all the time, no matter what. He ends up having so many incredible experiences, and it changes his life. When abroad, especially in a place like China, I would advise you to have that kind of attitude. Just go with the flow. "

George Linderman
Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies
Summer, 2016

As I pack my things up, I can't help but wonder how much I will miss and how much I already miss Japan. The summer has been a life-changing experience, and I really treasure the opportunity that we had to engage with another culture in such depth."

Wei Tai Ting
Sun Academy Nihongo Center
Summer, 2016

What I eventually realized was that this experience was much more than I originally had anticipated it to be. In my short time abroad, I learned how to deal with unexpected situations, I learned to trust myself in navigating new and foreign places, I learned how to connect to an entirely different culture, and I learned at least a little about being an adult. The Light Fellowship promoted growth in every aspect of my life, even in my future profession. "

Jimmy Shih
Harvard-Beijing Academy
Summer, 2016

Every day transactions you wouldn’t think about at home suddenly become exciting events when you successfully have a conversation with no embarrassing communication breakdowns or somebody switching to English when they see you! ... Spending a lot of your time feeling frustrated at how limited your expression is in a second language will make you more aware of and appreciate how deep and malleable and varied it is in your native language. Language is wild."

Ms. Melissa Redwood
Ewha: International Education Institute
Spring, 2016

I’ve fallen in love with China and Beijing along with their pushy, genuine, enthusiastic, and kind-hearted people. After nine weeks of no English, 160 hours of 8am classes, 1020 characters, 30 tingxies, 8 tests, hours of conversations with teachers and locals, gallons of 珍珠奶茶 (milk tea), 16 Chinese tables, many delicious meals at the BLCU cafeteria, occasionally severe pollution, eating only with chopsticks, crazy traffic, and little personal space, I’m not ready to say goodbye to Beijing."

Marah Maayah
Harvard-Beijing Academy
Summer, 2016

This summer, the most valuable lesson that I learned was to not be afraid of using Chinese to express myself. It started out with the small things: like asking strangers for basic directions to asking teachers how their weekends were. These small, friendly conversations helped initiate long-lasting friendships and gave me tangible experiences that will motivate me to continue my study of Chinese. "

Chan Young Chung
Harvard-Beijing Academy
Summer, 2016

I think many people were surprised to hear that I chose to 1) study abroad somewhere that I had been to before and 2) study a language they assumed I already knew. However, I knew it was going to be a completely different experience living in China for an extended period of time without my family, but it surprised even me how meaningful this summer ended up being...Throughout the summer, I was constantly reminded what a true blessing it is to learn from and be a part of two different cultures. "

Alyssa Chen
Harvard-Beijing Academy
Summer, 2016

In terms of being a heritage student at HBA, I think this summer was a unique, formative, and transformative experience. Many of our conversations in class centered around the topic of identity. Namely, after discussing certain social issues in China, we would discuss how it compared to American culture, and then how it related to us...It was great to strike up conversations with locals, and it felt extremely comfortable interacting in a place where you looked like you belong, and in some way, felt like you belonged. "

Teresa Chen
Harvard-Beijing Academy
Summer, 2016

The one-on-one afternoon classes are also extremely valuable. I can’t conceive of a better way to improve your language skills than having an hour or more each day to converse with a native speaker who is specifically focused and trained on correcting the inauthentic aspects of your speech. In these classes, I not only spoke for a long time and increased my fluency but also listened to my teachers and learned more about their perspectives on wealth disparity, careers, education and love. It was without a doubt the most rewarding aspect of my trip."

Thomas Chu
UVA in Shanghai
Summer, 2016

Moments when I feel as if I am connecting to those around me, perhaps helping sow a new thought, are when I feel the most purpose in pursuit of a new language. "

Ms. Genevieve Simmons
CET-Osaka
Fall, 2016

For those thinking about whether or not they should come to Sun Academy, the program is absolutely amazing. While the work is definitely not light, the teachers are great. They all care not only about your education, but also about your wellbeing, and they are always willing to help if you have a problem...We not only were able to visit an elementary school and a high school, but we were also able to attend a matsuri. We even met Okuda-producer, the producer of several Ghibli movies, which is still unbelievable."

Kevin Hu
Sun Academy Nihongo Center
Summer, 2016

Barely. A. Week. That’s how long I have left in Seoul...Three months seemed like an impossibly long time to be that far away from home. But I’ve made it and…dare I say…enjoyed it. Seriously. For all the things that Korea is not and America is, there are things America is not and Korea is, and I will seriously miss some things that I will be hopelessly unable to find back in the States."

Alyssa Patterson
Sogang: Korean Language Education Center
Summer, 2016

Do CET. It is a wonderful program with stellar professors. Osaka has much to offer: incredible food, a perfect rendezvous point for day-trips to Kyoto and the beautiful mountainous regions of southern Honshu, incredibly friendly people (who give off a much different vibe than, say, the people of Tokyo!), and contact with a cool Japanese dialect (Osaka-ben). Although the room-share program can be challenging to individuals based on a variety of factors, it is a perfect formula for discovering not just ‘about people in Japan’ but ‘the people’ themselves in all their complexity and beauty. "

Mr. David Torres
CET-Osaka
Fall, 2016

2015-2016

Most importantly, Beijing’s beauty has revealed to me that the value of each culture is simply incomparable, and that the concept of culture itself is formless, malleable. In Beijing’s unsuspecting bustle, I have found both my American side and my Chinese side. More so, I have gradually come to embrace Chinese culture and language with bold and understanding pride."

Ms. Jessica Gao
Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies
Academic Year, 2015-2016

By the time I began taking 연구반 in the spring, I had become committed to the “댄서 생활” (dancer’s lifestyle) that a small minority of Korean teens and twenty-somethings choose to follow, almost all of them with professional aspirations...Reflecting on the year, I am fully satisfied with how I spent my time and would encourage future Light Fellows to pursue something similar with an activity they enjoy. I entered the country knowing I wanted to explore a hobby, and fell deeply into a world within Seoul that few South Koreans themselves know or appreciate. "

Mr. Jacob Albert
Korea University: Korean Language Center
Academic Year, 2015-2016

2015

ACC is a very rewarding program. The small size of the student group allowed for each student to have more one-on-one time with the teachers, working together to improve individual language proficiency...I was pleased to see that apart from the majority of Hamilton College students, most ACC students hailed from various universities across the US. There were also two other international students with whom I could relate to on the program. Together, we all brought different perspectives into the classroom. In my opinion, this diversity strengthened the group dynamic. "

Timiebi Souza-Okpofabri
Associated Colleges in China
Fall, 2015

2014-2015

If you are reading this, you are probably considering taking one or two semesters off Yale to study in China for longer than just a summer. Before I start talking about the ACC program, I just want to say: DO IT! I know it’s much harder to commit to a semester rather than just a summer, but the pay-off is huge. "

Mr. Viktor Nesheim
Associated Colleges in China
Academic Year, 2014-2015

2014

Thank you so much to the Light Fellowship and everyone at Yale who made this possible. This was a really fantastic experience that I would not have been able to undertake without everyone's support... I learned a ton and gained the confidence to talk in a wide variety of situations."

Mr. John D'Amico
CET-Osaka
Spring, 2014

I've never been a person that couldn't adapt to change, but when it comes to travel, I hesitate to feel the excitement until I arrive. Until then, quiet, unadulterated nervousness. when it comes to "Summer in Seoul 1.0," part of me thinks that I acted that way because I had built up so much long-term anticipation about the trip. The Light Fellowship had been in my sights before I even got to Yale, before I was sure that I was going to apply.""

Ms. Kelsey Miller
Korea University: Korean Language Center
Summer, 2014

2013-2014

The Light Fellowship not only shaped my Yale experience, but it also is one of the things that made Yale feel like home to me. I wouldn't have come this far in my journey with Japanese if it weren't for the Light Foundation. "

Mr. Wayne Baylor
Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies
Academic Year, 2013-2014

2013

It's still hard to evaluate how I've changed during the trip - that I think might take some time and deeper reflection. What I do know for now is that my Korean has improved substantially... I think the true impacts of my trip will become apparent over time, especially as I return to Yale and see if I can interact with the culture of the campus in new ways."

Eugene Kim
Ewha: International Education Institute
Summer, 2013

2008-2009

When I was in China during my leave of absence I spent a lot of time at IUP for a summer and academic year. (I was a very intense student).. Once I came back to Yale, I began talking about healthcare issues and thinking about how learning medicine in itself is a feat in learning a language as well, I thought that was a connection worth pursuing. Having garnered a lot of the experiences of learning characters over and over, learning chengyus (proverbs), memorizing conversations, that really helped prepare me well for medical school. In medicine, you're really picking up another language... In medical school, some of the direct applications of Chinese that I've found serendipitously, were opportunities to translate. a lot of these translations are being applied in real-time use. I think I can't ask for a more direct application and impact of the Light Fellowship on my life than that. "

Mr. Richard Kim
Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies
Academic Year, 2008-2009

2008

The Light Fellowship changed my life... At the Harvard Beijing Academy I talked a lot about cello in class and was beatboxing with my friends on the side. A teacher asked if I had thought about combining them. I realized that I was interested and began to work on this art I call "Celloboxing." It took me seeing it through a Chinese lens to understand it."

Kevin Olusola
Harvard-Beijing Academy
Summer, 2008

At the end of two months in Beijing, I was having conversations in Chinese I never in my wildest dreams imagined I would be able to have... The Light Fellowship gave me the courage to step outside of my comfort zone. The worldly, curious person I became in China was worlds apart from the timid freshman I started out as, and it's still the person I am today... Most of my career has consisted of engaging with communities vastly different from my own, and I could not have gotten to where I am today without the ability to listen, to empathize, to appreciate nuance and be comfortable in the grey areas. The seeds of that ability were planted during my summer in China."

Mr. James Kim
Duke Study in China
Summer, 2008

2006

The Light Fellowship came at this really crucial moment in my personal development. It was the first time living in a foreign country, in a city, in a really foreign environment. It was my first time navigating the world in a foreign language."

Mr. Austin Woerner
Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies
Summer, 2006

1997

Like many people in my generation at Yale, I first became interested in China because I had the luck to be dragged into one of Jonathan Spence's lectures on Chinese history my sophomore year by my smart roommate... I think something about the open-endedness of the Light Fellowship, the fact that I had a stretch of time free to just learn a language and that I was actively encouraged to view anything I did in that language as part of that endeavor, allowed me to explore and improvise."

Ms. Susan Jakes
CET-Beijing
Fall, 1997