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Abigale Lischak travels with NSLI-Y to China, explores culture, language

Abigale Lischak '20 poses with her host sister Muyi Yu at Chimelong Ocean Kingdom Amusement Park.  Lischak also had a host mom and dad, who she lived with during the trip.

Photo credit: Wenjiao Wang

Abigale Lischak '20 poses with her host sister Muyi Yu at Chimelong Ocean Kingdom Amusement Park. Lischak also had a host mom and dad, who she lived with during the trip.

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During summer vacation, many high schoolers trade homework for going to the beach and spending time with friends. But unlike most, Abigale Lischak ’20 spent her break studying a foreign language.

Lischak traveled to China for six weeks from the beginning of June to the end of August in 2017 to learn about and experience Chinese culture with the National Security Language Initiative for Youth [NSLI-Y]

NSLI-Y was created in 2006 by the U.S. Department of State to promote critical language learning through American youth. The government-funded program offers travel locations such as Egypt and Korea for students to explore new cultures and languages.

On her summer trip, Lischak studied Chinese at Beijing Normal University in China’s capitol. The program included 20 students, who had a diverse range of language experiences. 

“We all had language partners, and there were students at the university [that] helped us with [Chinese] language,” Lischak said. “My [group] was all people who had Chinese experience, so I was on the lowest end. One girl sounded fluent to me.” 

The goal of NSLI-Y is to improve the ability of Americans to engage with the people of Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Persian, Russian and Turkish-speaking countries through shared language, according to their website

Filmed by Lischak

NSLI-Y  also works to “spark” interest in cultures among American youth. Lischak said it was “amazing” to live in a different area because it taught her about the different cultures in China. 

As part of learning about Chinese culture, Lischak ate Chinese food every day. The video to the left shows how to make changfen, a traditional Chinese breakfast food from Guangdong province. The dish is usually made with rice paste, eggs, meat and vegetables.

“I learned so much from living there every day,” Lischak said. “I noticed things about people and the way people acted. It was really interesting learning about the culture.” 

Some of the culture activities Lischak participated in were attending the Chinese opera and learning about Chinese calligraphy.

According to Study Abroad, foreign language immersion programs provide a “great” environment to practice language skills while being immersed in local culture. 

“I think this was an amazing experience,” Lischak said. “I wish I could do it again.”

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Abigale Lischak travels with NSLI-Y to China, explores culture, language”

  1. Ms. Daehler on April 23rd, 2018 11:45 am

    Sounds like an incredible experience, Abigail! Thank you for covering this, Ella!

    Ms. Daehler

  2. Ms. Gosselin on May 4th, 2018 5:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing this amazing experience with us, Abigale!
    Great job, Ella!

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