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Traveling the New (and Old) Streets of Beijing

July 25, 2016

Nicholas Steele, a UW undergraduate in International Studies, was awarded a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship to study Chinese with the CET Program in Beijing this summer.  He is spending the summer “exploring the old and new city, building friendships, and only speaking Mandarin.”

In a restaurant in ChinaHe writes, “I have gotten to know Beijing through the eyes of cab drivers. I’ve been learning, from the men who live and work in the city, that the texture of life here is unbound from the past. The idea of change, the familiarity of transformation, is intuitive for these cab drivers: men who once drove through empty roads now shepherd American students on crowded highways. They navigate through a metropolis built, and rebuilt, every few years; where dirt roads that lead to remnants of another era bisect six-lane avenues. Conversations with Beijing cab drivers have given poignancy to my stay this summer. It is not only because each conversation is the result of an expanding vocabulary, from weeks spent studying Mandarin at a local university. But also, the act of being a passenger and seeing the city unfold–road by road, cab upon cab.”

Beijing street sceneFLAS Fellowships are funded by the International and Foreign Language Education office of the U.S. Department of Education.  FLAS fellowships support undergraduate, graduate and professional students in acquiring modern foreign languages and area or international studies competencies.   Students from all UW departments and professional schools are encouraged to apply.  Find out more about the FLAS Fellowship here.