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Chinese Flagship program gets renewal of $1.2 million grant

The University of North Georgia's (UNG) Chinese Language Flagship Program has been renewed for another four-year, $1.2 million grant as the second cohort of students starts their capstone year in China.

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UNG students Alexandra Bennett, ( back row, second from left) Michael Norman (back row, third from left) and Landry Shaffer (standing, far right) have just started their year studying abroad. Photo courtesy of American Councils.

Established in 2011, UNG's program is funded by the Defense Language National Security Education Office (DLNSEO) and is administered by Institute of International Education. UNG's program is designed to provide intensive Chinese language and culture education in conjunction with ROTC requirements. UNG's Chinese Language Flagship Program is the only ROTC-designated flagship program in the nation.

The Language Flagship Program, which sponsors more than two dozen programs in various languages at 20-plus universities, is an initiative of the National Security Education Program (NSEP).

"What makes UNG’s Flagship Program distinctive is that students pursue a major of their choice together with intensive Chinese language training. In this way, students graduate with a high proficiency in Chinese as well as all the practical knowledge their major can offer them," said Sungshin Kim, associate professor of history at UNG. Kim and Dr. Chris Jespersen, dean of UNG's College of Arts & Letters, are principal investigators for the grant. "Equipped with both Chinese language and professional skills, Flagship students are uniquely well-prepared for careers in federal government, global business, nongovernmental organizations, or other fields, in a world where China has come to play an important role."

UNG students Alexandra Bennett, Michael Norman and Landry Shaffer have just started their year studying abroad. All three are cadets majoring in Chinese; Norman also is pursuing a major in international affairs.

Bennett was selected to speak at the opening ceremony for the Beijing Union University College of International Education, representing all Flagship students. She plans to seek a master's degree and pursue a career in product research and development, and recognizes that the experience also is making her a global citizen.

UNG student Landry Shaffer, second from right, learns how to make moon cakes while spending a year studying in China in UNG's Chinese Language Flagship Program.
UNG student Landry Shaffer learns how to make moon cakes while spending a year studying in China in UNG's Chinese Language Flagship Program.

"Aside from reaching for a superior level of Chinese, I am excited to have the opportunity to experience the parts of the culture you can't get from a textbook," she said. "I hope to use my Chinese as a part of a more globalized community, and The Flagship Program capstone experience will help me understand a native Chinese speaker's expectations and assumptions within a professional setting."

Shaffer plans to pursue graduate studies in business, then combine his knowledge and experience to work for an American company that does business with China.

"I expect to improve my reading, writing, speaking and listening in formal Chinese and interact with as many Chinese students as possible to improve my colloquial speaking and listening ability," Shaffer said. "The class material here is very relevant and interesting; the teachers often dive deeper into the text, provide personal experience and have meaningful discussions in class with us."

In addition to the grant, The Flagship Program provides some $125,000 in scholarships to qualified UNG cadets to fund their capstone year and summer programs. UNG's Chinese Flagship Program is open to any UNG student interested in pursuing Chinese; of 44 students currently in the program, 24 are cadets.

The Chinese Flagship is designed for undergraduate students who are highly interested in Chinese language and culture. During the first four years, students take courses both at UNG and in China. During the fifth, or capstone, year in China, students take classes the first semester and participate in an internship the second semester. After completing the fifth year, students receive their bachelor's degrees and cadets commission as second lieutenants.

For more information on UNG's Chinese Language Flagship program, visit UNG's Chinese Language Flagship website.

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