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CET Kunming Program
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Aimee Pizarchik

Liberal Arts Major(s): Chinese
Other Major: Security and Risk Analysis
Minor: Asian Studies
Hometown: Apollo, Pennsylvania

What was the best part of your experience?

Studying Chinese in a completely immersive environment was absolutely life-changing. There is truly so much to be learned through human interaction, and the connections formed through the commonality of language. Breaking down the language barrier opened my eyes to a world that I would have otherwise never experienced. My time abroad entirely shifted my worldview, and that is what I cherish most about my time in Kunming.

My time abroad entirely shifted my worldview, and that is what I cherish most about my time in Kunming.

How did this experience impact you academically?

Prior to my time in Kunming, I had studied Chinese extensively, but was not very confident in my skill level, particularly my speaking ability. However, spending two months under a language pledge has taken my fluency to new heights. In fact, sometimes I find myself speaking in Chinese more naturally than English!

How will this experience impact your career goals?

Taking my language skills closer to near-native fluency has opened up so many doors in my life. Reaffirming my love for language study has led me for the first time to seriously consider pursuing a postgraduate degree. That being said, should I choose not to, I am now confident my language abilities are sufficient enough to take me anywhere.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

In a world where liberal arts degrees at times are scoffed at, it is all too easy to become discouraged and choose something more "practical." Had I never encountered Paterno Fellows, perhaps I would have done just that. Thankfully, this program has confirmed for me what I had known all along: there is something of great importance to be had from studying the liberal arts and humanities. I am grateful that the Paterno Fellows Program has given me the means and motivation to continue pursuing my passions.

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