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UNG secures another 4-year, $1.2 million Chinese Language Flagship grant

June 8, 2020

When the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Chinese Language Flagship program came up for re-authorization this spring, it was not simply a renewal application. The process was an open competition for schools that wanted to become a Chinese Flagship for the first time as well as those with existing programs.

UNG rose to the challenge to earn a $1.2 million grant over four years to continue the program, which launched in 2011 at UNG. The program allows students to learn Chinese for four years at UNG and then spend a capstone year in Taiwan or China that gives them language and cultural training through classes and an internship.

"This announcement is an indication of the great success the existing program has had since its inauguration in 2011," said Dr. Christopher Jespersen, dean of UNG's College of Arts and Letters. "The dedication and commitment of the faculty and staff and the success of the students who have come through the program speak volumes about the excellence and synergy we've created. We look forward to another four years of providing great opportunities for current and future UNG students."

UNG was an ROTC Chinese Language Flagship when it began the program nearly a decade ago, and the 2019-20 school year marked a growth in the partnership as it began providing up to $20,000 per civilian student in the program for both domestic and overseas Chinese learning programs. Previously, only cadets received funds for these opportunities.

Fourteen UNG students have completed a capstone in Taiwan or China since 2014, when the university sent its first students for a capstone year for language training and an internship.

"Our efforts and what we do are validated. Our program is solid," said Chi-Hsuan Catterson, senior lecturer of Chinese and academic director of UNG's Chinese Language Flagship. "We always want more students who are willing to take this challenge."

UNG is one of 13 schools nationally to have a Chinese Language Flagship program. Others include Arizona State University, University of Washington, Indiana University, University of Minnesota, University of Mississippi, University of Oregon, and Brigham Young University.

Dillon Evans, a junior cadet pursuing a degree in modern languages with a Chinese for global professionals concentration, took part in an immersive Chinese Language Flagship program at Indiana University during summer 2018. Then the Columbus, Georgia, native spent a semester of study abroad at the Republic of China Military Academy in spring 2019 before a short stint at National Taiwan University's International Chinese Language Program in summer 2019.

"I have had many opportunities to immerse myself into a nearly perfect language-learning environment. However, even more important than the language learning is the opportunity to deepen my cultural awareness," Evans said. "Chinese Flagship professors and tutors take on a perspective of my specific major when teaching Chinese, but they do not shift their cultural background to fit an American's way of thinking. This has been the most difficult, rewarding and unique element to the Chinese Flagship, allowing me to learn Mandarin with eons more depth and breadth than my counterparts in other programs."

Interested students must apply for the Chinese Flagship program by the first semester of their sophomore year. Applications may be submitted on the UNG Chinese Language Flagship website.

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