Our Community’s Reciprocal Empowerment Will Inspire You To Thrive: TAWLs’ Successful Experiences in the Chinese Language Program

Oftentimes, when students take Mandarin classes with the Chinese Language Program (CLP), they find heartwarming connections with the Chinese culture and community that they are learning from. Behind the thriving program which has brought inspiration to so many students, is a meticulous and dedicated team of professors, Teaching Assistants and Worklearns (TAWLs) who strive to empower students to make the most out of their language learning journeys. What is even more meaningful, is that TAWLs are all students themselves, who see their time at the CLP as a way to advance their professional development within a community that prioritizes mutual support.

In the CLP, TAWLs become connected to a network of experienced professors and other excellent and supportive TAWLs, who they can draw strength and inspiration from to develop useful and transferable skills for their prospective future careers. Not only that, but being involved in the CLP has helped TAWLs to become more proactive, and it has also helped them to feel more confident and proud about their own capabilities and achievements. Lastly, TAWLs also see their contributions to the CLP as an opportunity to relate more with their learning community. Because of all these reasons, it’s no wonder why the CLP is a supportive and nourishing environment for ambitious students to grow as TAWLs.

For Tonya Mo, a Teaching Assistant in CHIN 143 who is transitioning to a role as a TAWL coordinator, starting to work in the CLP helped her gain a network of supportive people who motivates her to enhance her professional development. When Tonya was assigned to coordinate a workshop for people who were interested in becoming TAWLs, Tonya remarks how she felt overwhelmed because she was responsible for such a large task in the beginning.

Tonya says: “In spite of some pressure at first, our fellow TAWLs and professors warmly offered me their experience, guidance, and encouragement. After completing some tasks in the beginning, I began learning how to initiate new projects and provide my insights. These opportunities not only helped me hone my coordination skills, but they also pushed me out of my comfort zone so I could broaden my horizons in approaching tasks for the greater good. Now, my work vision, abilities, and confidence have largely improved. I feel highly trusted, respected, and valued in the CLP.”

Evidently, Tonya draws strength and inspiration from her community to conquer large challenges, and she turns these connections with others into a learning opportunity, so she can expand on skills she has not developed before. Ultimately, Tonya’s experiences showcase that the CLP prioritizes community support and empowerment within the workspace.

Tonya Mo, CHIN 143 TA, a fourth year student majoring in Psychology

My team is diligent, competent, creative, and their unyielding support always inspires me to expand my horizons

– Tonya Mo, CHIN 143 TA, a fourth year student majoring in Psychology

For Yuting Huang, an Oral Practice Worklearn, working in the CLP helped her to break out of her own comfort zone, so she can challenge herself to become more proactive and communicative as a professional student employee. As an oral practice facilitator, Yuting has had to help volunteers gain confidence, so they can encourage Chinese language learners to develop their independent thinking and conversational skills. But beyond that, Yuting also had to proactively seek out opportunities to work on new projects that promoted the CLP’s image. When Yuting first started working, she described how she was shy in the new workplace, but she attributes her success in her professional development to her mentors and colleagues who encouraged her to expand her contributions.

She notes: “[Before starting out], I was not a proactive person, and I waited for people to seek me out for work. While I was working, the professors gave me opportunities to handle one project after another. And with this progression of tasks, they were gradually challenging me to think beyond the box, and their trust in me to do all of this work makes me feel honored, and so proud of myself. Slowly, I saw myself taking more initiative to help out my team that has unconditionally supported me.”

For Yuting, being empowered to take on more opportunities in the workplace helped her value the many skills she offered to the table; and because she is able to expand on her own capabilities, she is also able to gather pride in her own learning journey because of it.

Yuting Huang, OP Worklearn, an alumni who majored in Psychology

“I’ve learned so much from the professors, and our TAWL team, but the most important thing, which I appreciate from the team, is their belief in me”

– Yuting Huang, OP Worklearn, an alumni who majored in Psychology

For Shih-wei Wang, a Social Media and Events (SE) Worklearn, working in the CLP allowed her to connect with her learning community on a whole other level. Shih-wei mentions: “Oftentimes, I’m excited to interview students who are growing as Chinese language learners. As a fellow Chinese heritage student, engaging with these students, and writing about their stories in a newsletter, helps me reflect meaningfully on my own language learning journey as well. By helping to plan important events, this has allowed me to take care and listen to the profound dialogue that each student contributed to the group. Seeing the impact of how the CLP has inspired students has brought me great joy because it felt like my hard work was finally paying off when I brought these people together.”

For Shih-wei, joining the CLP was not only a way for her to contribute to her learning community, it was a way for her to relate more with her peers, and to give back the support she received from those around her. Most of all, she was able to directly see the beautiful and inspiring impact that the CLP has made on passionate Chinese language learners.

Shih-wei Wang, SE Worklearn, a fourth year student majoring in English Literature

“Being a part of the CLP has been a part of an amazing journey. This place has taught me so much about my own professional development, about how I can grow as a person, and even as a writer. Best of all, it has connected me with lifelong friends”

– Shih-wei Wang, SE Worklearn, a fourth year student majoring in English Literature

For a passionate professor like Dr. Hsiang-ning Sunnie Wang, who is responsible for coordinating the CLP, and works closely with TAWLs to ensure the success of the program, she is super grateful for the dedicated student employees. Dr. Wang says: “It is our honor and pleasure to see all TAWLs mature, thrive, and shine here. They become such professional, accountable, and proactive people. They not only recognize what they can accomplish as individuals, but they also strive to challenge themselves and build upon their capabilities. All of the TAWLs’ dedication and contribution to our learning community are greatly recognized and appreciated by students and faculty members.”

Dr. Hsiang-ning Sunnie Wang, Coordinator of the CLP

“The TAWLs’ support for the CLP family undoubtedly make them a strong, determined, and inspiring team”

– Dr. Hsiang-ning Sunnie Wang, Coordinator of the CLP 

Since the CLP focuses so much on the community’s reciprocal empowerment, it has brought out many TAWLs who have successfully made the most out of their learning journeys along with their lifelong friends. Because of this, it is easy to see why so many dedicated students are enthusiastic about joining the CLP. The CLP is super grateful for all of their amazing TAWLs in 2021, and they look forward to incoming TAWLs who are sure to thrive and shine in 2022.

For anyone who is interested in applying to become CLP’s TAWL in the winter terms of 2022, please click here to apply by July 20, 2022!

Written by Shih-wei Wang