Forming New Connections: Chinese Language Program’s Imagine UBC Day

As the biggest back-to-school event on campus, Imagine UBC provided students with opportunities to bond with peers and professors, building a community where everyone celebrates imaginative power to maximize the student experience. Enthusiasm and excitement about UBC learning opportunities in the new academic year burst onto the Imagine UBC Day activities held by the department of Asian Studies. Large crowds of students flocked to the exhibitions for information about course offerings.

The instructors and volunteers from the Chinese Language Program (CLP) were adeptly prepared for visitors streaming in from all directions. They were decked out in the traditional styles of clothing, known as Qipao and Hanfu, to arrest considerable attention. Captivated by the attractive fashions, curious students started to rain questions upon the hosts about the ins and outs of learning Chinese at UBC. Showered with intriguing stories and opportunities, many students felt excited about the prospect of enriching their college life with new experiences in Chinese culture.

Work Learn students wearing Hanfus

Lecturer Tim Cai, in a red costume symbolizing luck, posing with a student

Work Learn student Shih-wei Wang interacting with a curious student

Lecturer Bin Zheng (right) and Sessional Lecturer Hongyang Tao (left) engaging students with Chinese language courses

The Chinese Language Program set up diverting games to demonstrate that language learning promises perfect fun. Students were invited to spin a prize wheel to determine the activity they would participate in. They would have the option of answering an interactive question to learn some fun facts about Chinese culture. They could also play the exhilarating game of Jianzi, which required the player to toss up a colorful, feathered trinket in the air and kick it consecutively to show off their impressive athleticism.

Students spinning the colorful wheel with the CLP Social Media and Events Team Coordinator, Kelly Tan (2nd from the right)

Lecturer Li-Jung Lee (left) presenting the board of questions

Lecturer Yu-Chun Peng (right) playing the game of Jianzi with a student

Recently, the Chinese Language Program launched a social media campaign to connect with the community. Students were invited to enter the program’s Instagram raffle on Imagine UBC Day by commenting on the @ubcchinese Instagram CHIN Imagine Day post. The many enthusiastic comments on the post express heartfelt aspirations for CLP’s further expedition in the upcoming year!

A screenshot of CLP’s Instagram, @ubcchinese, displaying the Imagine Day raffle with community support

To help new students imagine their adventures, some senior students from the Chinese Language Program shared inspiring words about their experiences and achievements in learning Chinese at UBC.

Evan Maki, a student majoring in International Economics from the non-heritage course of CHIN 335, was pleased about the welcoming community he found in his Chinese classes. Evan said, “Some of the greatest friends I made at UBC have been in my Chinese classes. Sometimes I’ll go with them to Richmond, so we can go to try out the bountiful, amazing Asian foods in that great area. You will find many like-minded people in the Chinese Language Program, and getting to know them is a great experience.” For numerous students in the CLP, as Evan pointed out, the classroom environment has been a wonderful space for them to find support, friendship, and a strong sense of belonging at UBC.

Evan also talked about how fulfilling it is to form his own opinions on intellectual topics in a second language, “One of my favorite topics I’ve learned about is from a Chinese video project I’ve done the last term, where I talked about environmentalism and sustainability. I think it’s amazing that we can do more, go deeper into impactful and intellectual topics that apply to our modern society because it’s gratifying to do so in a second language.” For many aspiring students, a second language provides increased scope for them to probe into contemporary issues across borders and grow as global citizens beyond academia.

Evan Maki, a fourth-year student majoring in International Economics

“I found all my Chinese teachers incredibly helpful in and out of the classroom. Building a good repertoire with your teachers, where you can talk back and forth with them casually, is very nice and helpful in the language learning process. Also, a shout-out to the TAs and volunteers who help us in oral practice: they do a great job in helping us with casual conversations!”

– Evan Maki, a student in CHIN 335

Kate Cowell, a student majoring in Asian Area Studies, came from the heritage course of CHIN 345 and talked about the supportive environment in her Chinese classes. Kate remarked, “I think the CLP community is very open-minded, empathetic, and supportive of everyone’s learning journeys. Ultimately we all come from different parts of the world, and sometimes our linguistic capabilities are all very different. Still, it’s a shared appreciation of that and finding beauty in all our differences. I think everyone’s bonded by this shared sense of finding our identities as third culture kids, so we all relate to each other in many ways.” Indeed, for many heritage learners, taking Chinese classes has become a pathway to connection, allowing them to reconnect with their cultural heritage and share meaningful dialogues with students of similar life experiences.

Kate Cowell, a fourth-year student majoring in Asian Area Studies

“I first started taking Chinese in my third year at UBC. Having spent my second year in Hong Kong, I considered my family’s importance and reconnected with my heritage and identity. So I just really wanted to find a way to keep that up while I’m here at UBC.”

– Kate Cowell, a student in CHIN 345

One week after Imagine UBC Day, the spectacular homecoming occasion was restaged in the Asian Centre Auditorium when the department of Asian Studies hosted its Welcome Back Night orientation event. Under the UBC motto Tuum Est (It is Yours), instructors, Work Learn students, and volunteers came together to instill the school spirit of curiosity and initiative in the hearts of new-to-UBC students. A big thank-you to everyone who comes forward as a bearer of the message!

CLP instructors at the Imagine UBC Day 2022

CLP instructors, WL students, and volunteers at the Asian Studies Welcome Back Night 2022

Written by Shih-wei Wang